With around 800,000 inhabitants, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands but not the seat of government which is in The Hague.
Founded around the 13th Century, it was born as a fishing village around a dam on the Amstel river from where it took the name Aemstelredamme.
It was granted town privileges in the following century following a proclamation by the Bishop of Utrecht Gwijde van Henegouwen and continued to grow rapidly in the following centuries.
The period between the 17th and 18th Centuries was considered to be the city’s Golden Age as it established itself as a key commercial port. Many of the current tourist attractions come from that period such as the Royal Palace in Dam Square, the Westerkerk, Zuiderkerk and its famous canals.
Dutch expansion saw the emergence of colonies in India, Indonesia, African and the Americas under the flag of the Dutch West India Company.
In 1672, wars with France and England marked the end for the Golden Era.
However, the city was able to maintain its status as one of Central Europe’s key financial bases which guaranteed prosperity and development for its citizens.
In the 19th Century, the city which had since been annexed by the Kingdom of Holland was at its lowest point as it was occupied by the French. This was followed by years of recession and limited population growth. This difficult period in Amsterdam’s history ended with the Industrial Revolution as the city grew once more.
The Netherlands remained neutral in World War One but were invaded by Germany in the Second World War. During the war, Amsterdam became a major centre of Jewish deportations of which Anne Frank became a symbol.
After the Second World War, the Dutch capital became a place associated with the hippy movement and it took on a more diverse ethnic make-up with immigration from Suriname, Morocco and Turkey.
An engaging and fascinating city, Amsterdam features on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Its giant canal network with around 1,600 waterways, 1,500 bridges and 100 islands has seen the city nicknamed as the ‘Venice of the North’.
On 28th March, Amsterdam will host the glamorous friendly between the Netherlands and Gian Piero Ventura’s Italy at the magnificent Amsterdam ArenA, Kick-off is at 20:45 CEST!