Amsterdam (/ˈæmstərdæm/, UK also /ˌæmstərˈdæm/;Longman%20Pronunciation%20Dict]][ɑmstərˈdɑm listen capital most populous city Netherlands urban area2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. Amsterdam is in the province of North Holland. Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the "Venice of the North" due to its large number of canals which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Amsterdam's name derives from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city's origin around a dam in the river Amstel. Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world in the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century and became the leading centre for finance and trade. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were planned and built. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam and the 19–20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Sloten, annexed in 1921 by the municipality of Amsterdam, is the oldest part of the city, dating to the 9th century.
As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centres in Europe, Amsterdam is considered an alpha- world city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group. The city is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, including Philips, AkzoNobel, TomTom and ING. Also, many of the world's largest companies are based in Amsterdam or established their European headquarters in the city, such as leading technology companies Uber, Netflix and Tesla. In 2012, Amsterdam was ranked the second best city to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and 12th globally on quality of living for environment and infrastructure by Mercer. The city was ranked 4th place globally as top tech hub in the Savills Tech Cities 2019 report (2nd in Europe), and 3rd in innovation by Australian innovation agency 2thinknow in their Innovation Cities Index 2009. The Port of Amsterdam is the fifth largest in Europe. Famous Amsterdam residents include the diarist Anne Frank, artists Rembrandt and Van Gogh, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the oldest stock exchange in the world. Amsterdam's main attractions include its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw, the Anne Frank House, the Scheepvaartmuseum, the Amsterdam Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Natura Artis Magistra, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, NEMO, the red-light district and many cannabis coffee shops. They draw more than 5 million international visitors annually. The city is also well known for its nightlife and festival activity; several of its nightclubs (Melkweg, Paradiso) are among the world's most famous. It is also one of the world's most multicultural cities, with at least 177 nationalities represented.
After the floods of 1170 and 1173, locals near the river Amstel built a bridge over the river and a dam across it, giving its name to the village: "Aemstelredamme".
Amsterdam is much younger than Dutch cities such as Nijmegen, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. In October 2008, historical geographer Chris de Bont suggested that the land around Amsterdam was being reclaimed as early as the late 10th century. This does not necessarily mean that there was already a settlement then, since reclamation of land may not have been for farming—it may have been for peat, for use as fuel.
Amsterdam was granted city rights in either 1300 or 1306. From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely from trade with the Hanseatic League. In 1345, an alleged Eucharistic miracle in the Kalverstraat rendered the city an important place of pilgrimage until the adoption of the Protestant faith. The Miracle devotion went underground but was kept alive. In the 19th century, especially after the jubilee of 1845, the devotion was revitalized and became an important national point of reference for Dutch Catholics. The Stille Omgang—a silent walk or procession in civil attire—is the expression of the pilgrimage within the Protestant Netherlands since the late 19th century. In the heyday of the Silent Walk, up to 90,000 pilgrims came to Amsterdam. In the 21st century this has reduced to about 5000.
In the 16th century, the Dutch rebelled against Philip II of Spain and his successors. The main reasons for the uprising were the imposition of new taxes, the tenth penny, and the religious persecution of Protestants by the newly introduced Inquisition. The revolt escalated into the Eighty Years' War, which ultimately led to Dutch independence. Strongly pushed by Dutch Revolt leader William the Silent, the Dutch Republic became known for its relative religious tolerance. Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Huguenots from France, prosperous merchants and printers from Flanders, and economic and religious refugees from the Spanish-controlled parts of the Low Countries found safety in Amsterdam. The influx of Flemish printers and the city's intellectual tolerance made Amsterdam a centre for the European free press.
The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's Golden Age, during which it became the wealthiest city in the western world. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam's merchants had the largest share in both the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company. These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became Dutch colonies.
Amsterdam was Europe's most important point for the shipment of goods and was the leading Financial centre of the western world. In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the international trading Dutch East India Company became the world's first stock exchange by trading in its own shares. The Bank of Amsterdam started operations in 1609, acting as a full service bank for Dutch merchant bankers and as a reserve bank.
Amsterdam's prosperity declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age. New museums, a railway station, and the Concertgebouw were built; in this same time, the Industrial Revolution reached the city. The Amsterdam–Rhine Canal was dug to give Amsterdam a direct connection to the Rhine, and the North Sea Canal was dug to give the port a shorter connection to the North Sea. Both projects dramatically improved commerce with the rest of Europe and the world. In 1906, Joseph Conrad gave a brief description of Amsterdam as seen from the seaside, in The Mirror of the Sea.
Shortly before the First World War, the city started to expand again, and new suburbs were built.
On 1 January 1921, after a flood in 1916, the depleted municipalities of Durgerdam, Holysloot, Zunderdorp and Schellingwoude, all lying north of Amsterdam, were, at their own request, annexed to the city. Between the wars, the city continued to expand, most notably to the west of the Jordaan district in the Frederik Hendrikbuurt and surrounding neighbourhoods.
Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 and took control of the country. Some Amsterdam citizens sheltered Jews, thereby exposing themselves and their families to a high risk of being imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. More than 100,000 Dutch Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps, of whom some 60,000 lived in Amsterdam. In response, the Dutch Communist Party organised the February strike attended by 300,000 people to protest against the raids. Perhaps the most famous deportee was the young Jewish girl Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. At the end of the Second World War, communication with the rest of the country broke down, and food and fuel became scarce. Many citizens travelled to the countryside to forage. Dogs, cats, raw sugar beets, and Tulip bulbs—cooked to a pulp—were consumed to stay alive. Most of the trees in Amsterdam were cut down for fuel, and all the wood was taken from the apartments of deported Jews.
Many new suburbs, such as Osdorp, Slotervaart, Slotermeer and Geuzenveld, were built in the years after the Second World War. These suburbs contained many public parks and wide open spaces, and the new buildings provided improved housing conditions with larger and brighter rooms, gardens, and balconies.
The required large-scale demolitions began in Amsterdam's former Jewish neighbourhood.
As a result, the demolition was stopped and the highway was never built; only the metro was completed.
In the early years of the 21st century, the Amsterdam city centre has attracted large numbers of tourists: between 2012 and 2015, the annual number of visitors rose from 10 million to 17 million.
Construction of a metro line connecting the part of the city north of the river (or lake) IJ to the centre was started in 2003. The project was controversial because its cost had exceeded its budget by a factor three by 2008, because of fears of damage to buildings in the centre, and because construction had to be halted and restarted multiple times. The metro line was completed in 2018.
Since 2014, renewed focus has been given to urban regeneration and renewal, especially in areas directly bordering the city centre, such as Frederik Hendrikbuurt. This urban renewal and expansion of the traditional centre of the city—with the construction on artificial islands of the new eastern IJburg neighbourhood—is part of the Structural Vision Amsterdam 2040 initiative.
Amsterdam is located in the Western Netherlands, in the province of North Holland, although it is not its capital which is Haarlem. The river Amstel ends in the city centre and connects to a large number of canals that eventually terminate in the IJ. Amsterdam is about 2 metres (6.6 feet) below sea level. The surrounding land is flat as it is formed of large polders. A man-made forest, Amsterdamse Bos, is in the southwest. Amsterdam is connected to the North Sea through the long North Sea Canal.
Amsterdam is intensely urbanised, as is the Amsterdam metropolitan area surrounding the city. Comprising 219.4 square kilometres (84.7 square miles) of land, the city proper has 4,457 inhabitants per km2 and 2,275 houses per km2. Parks and nature reserves make up 12% of Amsterdam's land area.
Amsterdam has more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of canals, most of which are navigable by boat. The city's three main canals are the Prinsengracht, Herengracht, and Keizersgracht.
In the Middle Ages, Amsterdam was surrounded by a moat, called the Singel, which now forms the innermost ring in the city, and makes the city centre a horseshoe shape. The city is also served by a seaport. It has been compared with Venice, due to its division into about 90 islands, which are linked by more than 1,200 bridges.
Amsterdam has an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb) strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west, with prevailing westerly winds. While winters and summers are generally mild, temperatures can vary year by year. There can occasionally be cold snowy winters and hot humid summers.
Amsterdam, as well as most of the North Holland province, lies in USDA Hardiness zone 8b. Frosts mainly occur during spells of easterly or northeasterly winds from the inner European continent. Even then, because Amsterdam is surrounded on three sides by large bodies of water, as well as having a significant heat-island effect, nights rarely fall below −5 °C (23 °F), while it could easily be −12 °C (10 °F) in Hilversum, 25 kilometres (16 miles) southeast.
Summers are moderately warm with a number of hot days every month.
Amsterdam's average annual precipitation is 838 millimetres (33 in). A large part of this precipitation falls as light rain or brief showers.
In 1300, Amsterdam's population was around 1,000 people. While many towns in Holland experienced population decline during the 15th and 16th centuries, Amsterdam's population grew, mainly due to the rise of the profitable Baltic maritime trade after the Burgundian victory in the Dutch–Hanseatic War. Still, the population of Amsterdam was only modest compared to the towns and cities of Flanders and Brabant, which comprised the most urbanised area of the Low Countries.
This changed when, during the Dutch Revolt, many people from the Southern Netherlands fled to the North, especially after Antwerp fell to Spanish forces in 1585. Jewish people from Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe similarly settled in Amsterdam, as did Germans and Scandinavians. In thirty years, Amsterdam's population more than doubled from 1585 to 1610. By 1600, its population was around 50,000. During the 1660s, Amsterdam's population reached 200,000. The city's growth levelled off and the population stabilised around 240,000 for most of the 18th century.
In 1750, Amsterdam was the fourth largest city in western Europe, behind London (676,000), Paris (560,000) and Naples (324,000). This was all the more remarkable as Amsterdam was neither the capital city nor the seat of government of the Dutch Republic, which itself was a much smaller state than England, France or the Ottoman Empire. In contrast to those other metropolises, Amsterdam was also surrounded by large towns such as Leiden (about 67,000), Rotterdam (45,000), Haarlem (38,000), and Utrecht (30,000).
The city's population declined in the early 19th century, dipping under 200,000 in 1820. By the second half of the 19th century, industrialisation spurred renewed growth. Amsterdam's population hit an all-time high of 872,000 in 1959, before declining in the following decades due to government-sponsored suburbanisation to so-called groeikernen (growth centres) such as Purmerend and Almere. Between 1970 and 1980, Amsterdam experienced its sharp population decline, peaking at a net loss of 25,000 people in 1973. By 1985 the city had only 675,570 residents. This was soon followed by reurbanisation and gentrification, leading to renewed population growth in the 2010s. Also in the 2010s, much of Amsterdam's population growth was due to immigration to the city. Amsterdam's population is expected to top its previous high in 2019, reaching 873,000.
In the 16th and 17th century non-Dutch immigrants to Amsterdam were mostly Huguenots, Flemings, Sephardi Jews and Westphalians. Huguenots came after the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685, while the Flemish Protestants came during the Eighty Years' War. The Westphalians came to Amsterdam mostly for economic reasons – their influx continued through the 18th and 19th centuries. Before the Second World War, 10% of the city population was Jewish. Just twenty per cent of them survived the Shoah.
The first mass immigration in the 20th century were by people from Indonesia, who came to Amsterdam after the independence of the Dutch East Indies in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1960s guest workers from Turkey, Morocco, Italy and Spain emigrated to Amsterdam. After the independence of Suriname in 1975, a large wave of Surinamese settled in Amsterdam, mostly in the Bijlmer area. Other immigrants, including refugees asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, came from Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s, many 'old' Amsterdammers moved to 'new' cities like Almere and Purmerend, prompted by the third planological bill of the Dutch government. This bill promoted suburbanisation and arranged for new developments in so-called "groeikernen", literally cores of growth. Young professionals and artists moved into neighbourhoods de Pijp and the Jordaan abandoned by these Amsterdammers. The non-Western immigrants settled mostly in the social housing projects in Amsterdam-West and the Bijlmer. Today, people of non-Western origin make up approximately one-third of the population of Amsterdam, and more than 50% of the city' s children. Ethnic Dutch (as defined by the Dutch census) now make up a minority of the total population, although by far the largest one. Only one in three inhabitants under 15 is an autochtoon, or a person who has two parents of Dutch origin. Segregation along ethnic lines is clearly visible, with people of non-Western origin, considered a separate group by Statistics Netherlands, concentrating in specific neighbourhoods especially in Nieuw-West, Zeeburg, Bijlmer and in certain areas of Amsterdam-Noord.
In 1578, the largely Roman Catholic city of Amsterdam joined the revolt against Spanish rule, late in comparison to other major northern Dutch cities. Roman Catholic priests were driven out of the city. Following the Dutch takeover, all churches were converted to Protestant worship. Calvinism was declared the main religion, and although Catholicism was not forbidden and priests allowed to serve, the Catholic hierarchy was prohibited. This led to the establishment of schuilkerken, covert religious buildings that were hidden in pre-existing buildings. Catholics, some Jewish and dissenting Protestants worshiped in such buildings. A large influx of foreigners of many religions came to 17th-century Amsterdam, in particular Sefardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, Huguenots from France, Lutherans, Mennonites, and Protestants from across the Netherlands. This led to the establishment of many non-Dutch-speaking churches. In 1603, the Jewish received permission to practice their religion. In 1639, the first synagogue was consecrated. The Jews came to call the town Jerusalem of the West.
As they became established in the city, other Christian denominations used converted Catholic chapels to conduct their own services. The oldest English-language church congregation in the world outside the United Kingdom is found at the Begijnhof. Regular services there are still offered in English under the auspices of the Church of Scotland. Being Calvinists, the Huguenots soon integrated into the Dutch Reformed Church, though often retaining their own congregations. Some, commonly referred by the moniker 'Walloon', are recognisable today as they offer occasional services in French.
In the second half of the 17th century, Amsterdam experienced an influx of Ashkenazim, Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. Jews often fled the pogroms in those areas. The first Ashkenazi who arrived in Amsterdam were refugees from the Khmelnytsky Uprising in eastern Poland and the Thirty Years' War. They not only founded their own synagogues, but had a strong influence on the 'Amsterdam dialect' adding a large Yiddish local vocabulary.
Despite an absence of an official Jewish ghetto, most Jews preferred to live in the eastern part of the old medieval heart of the city. The main street of this Jewish neighbourhood was the Jodenbreestraat. The neighbourhood comprised the Waterlooplein and the Nieuwmarkt. Buildings in this neighbourhood fell into disrepair after the Second World War, and a large section of the neighbourhood was demolished during the construction of the subway. This led to riots, and as a result the original plans for large-scale reconstruction were abandoned. The neighbourhood was rebuilt with smaller-scale residence buildings on the basis of its original layout.
Catholic churches in Amsterdam have been constructed since the restoration of the episcopal hierarchy in 1853. One of the principal architects behind the city's Catholic churches, Cuypers, was also responsible for the Amsterdam Central station and the Rijksmuseum.
In 1924, the Roman Catholic Church of the Netherlands hosted the International Eucharistic Congress in Amsterdam, and numerous Catholic prelates visited the city, where festivities were held in churches and stadiums. Catholic processions on the public streets, however, were still forbidden under law at the time. Only in the 20th century was Amsterdam's relation to Catholicism normalised, but despite its far larger population size, the episcopal see of the city was placed in the provincial town of Haarlem.
In recent times, religious demographics in Amsterdam have been changed by immigration from former colonies.
Amsterdam experienced an influx of religions and cultures after the Second World War.
Cityscape and architecture
Amsterdam fans out south from the Amsterdam Centraal railway station and Damrak, the main street off the station. The oldest area of the town is known as De Wallen (English: "The Quays"). It lies to the east of Damrak and contains the city's famous red light district. To the south of De Wallen is the old Jewish quarter of Waterlooplein.
The medieval and colonial age canals of Amsterdam, known as grachten, embraces the heart of the city where homes have interesting gables. Beyond the Grachtengordel are the former working class areas of Jordaan and de Pijp. The Museumplein with the city's major museums, the Vondelpark, a 19th-century park named after the Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel, and the Plantage neighbourhood, with the zoo, are also located outside the Grachtengordel.
The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning. In the early 17th century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehensive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the IJ bay. Known as the Grachtengordel, three of the canals were mostly for residential development: the Herengracht (where "Heren" refers to Heren Regeerders van de stad Amsterdam (ruling lords of Amsterdam), and gracht means canal, so the name can be roughly translated as "Canal of the Lords"), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal). The fourth and outermost canal is the Singelgracht, which is often not mentioned on maps, because it is a collective name for all canals in the outer ring. The Singelgracht should not be confused with the oldest and innermost canal, the Singel.
The canals served for defence, water management and transport. The defences took the form of a moat and earthen dikes, with gates at transit points, but otherwise no masonry superstructures. The original plans have been lost, so historians, such as Ed Taverne, need to speculate on the original intentions: it is thought that the considerations of the layout were purely practical and defensive rather than ornamental.
Construction started in 1613 and proceeded from west to east, across the breadth of the layout, like a gigantic windshield wiper as the historian Geert Mak calls it – and not from the centre outwards, as a popular myth has it. The canal construction in the southern sector was completed by 1656. Subsequently, the construction of residential buildings proceeded slowly. The eastern part of the concentric canal plan, covering the area between the Amstel river and the IJ bay, has never been implemented. In the following centuries, the land was used for parks, senior citizens' homes, theatres, other public facilities, and waterways without much planning. Over the years, several canals have been filled in, becoming streets or squares, such as the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Spui.
After the development of Amsterdam's canals in the 17th century, the city did not grow beyond its borders for two centuries.
Following Sarphati, civil engineers Jacobus van Niftrik and Jan Kalff designed an entire ring of 19th-century neighbourhoods surrounding the city's centre, with the city preserving the ownership of all land outside the 17th-century limit, thus firmly controlling development. Most of these neighbourhoods became home to the working class.
In response to overcrowding, two plans were designed at the beginning of the 20th century which were very different from anything Amsterdam had ever seen before: Plan Zuid, designed by the architect Berlage, and West. These plans involved the development of new neighbourhoods consisting of housing blocks for all social classes.
After the Second World War, large new neighbourhoods were built in the western, southeastern, and northern parts of the city.
Amsterdam has a rich architectural history. The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (English: Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen, consecrated in 1306. The oldest wooden building is Het Houten Huys  at the Begijnhof. It was constructed around 1425 and is one of only two existing wooden buildings. It is also one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Amsterdam. The oldest stone building of the Netherlands, The Moriaan is build in 's-Hertogenbosch.
In the 16th century, wooden buildings were razed and replaced with brick ones.
Philip Vingboons designed splendid merchants' houses throughout the city.
The old city centre is the focal point of all the architectural styles before the end of the 19th century.
Amsterdam has many parks, open spaces, and squares throughout the city.
The city has many open squares (plein in Dutch). The namesake of the city as the site of the original dam, Dam Square, is the main city square and has the Royal Palace and National Monument. Museumplein hosts various museums, including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum. Other squares include Rembrandtplein, Muntplein, Nieuwmarkt, Leidseplein, Spui, and Waterlooplein. Also, near to Amsterdam is the Nekkeveld estate conservation project.
Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is ranked fifth best of European cities in which to locate an international business, surpassed by London, Paris, Frankfurt and Barcelona. Many large corporations and banks have their headquarters in Amsterdam, including AkzoNobel, Heineken International, ING Group, ABN AMRO, TomTom, Delta Lloyd Group, Booking.com and Philips. KPMG International's global headquarters is located in nearby Amstelveen, where many non-Dutch companies have settled as well, because surrounding communities allow full land ownership, contrary to Amsterdam's land-lease system.
Though many small offices are still located on the old canals, companies are increasingly relocating outside the city centre.
There are three other smaller financial districts in Amsterdam.
Also, Deloitte, the Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf (municipal public transport company) and the Dutch tax offices (Belastingdienst) are located there. The second Financial District is the area surrounding the Johan Cruyff Arena. The third is the area surrounding Amsterdam Amstel railway station. The tallest building in Amsterdam, the Rembrandt Tower, is situated there, as is the headquarters of Philips.
The Port of Amsterdam is the fourth largest port in Europe, the 38th largest port in the world and the second largest port in the Netherlands by metric tons of cargo. In 2014 the Port of Amsterdam had a cargo throughput of 97,4 million tons of cargo, which was mostly bulk cargo. Amsterdam has the biggest cruise port in the Netherlands with more than 150 cruise ships every year. In 2019 the new lock in IJmuiden will open; the port will then be able to grow to 125 million tonnes in capacity.
Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually, this is excluding the 16 million day-trippers visiting the city every year. The number of visitors has been growing steadily over the past decade.
De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt, is a designated area for legalised prostitution and is Amsterdam's largest and most well known red-light district. This neighbourhood has become a famous attraction for tourists. It consists of a network of roads and alleys containing several hundred small, one-room apartments rented by sex workers who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights.
Shops in Amsterdam range from large high end department stores such as De Bijenkorf founded in 1870 to small specialty shops. Amsterdam's high-end shops are found in the streets P.C. Hooftstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat, which are located in the vicinity of the Vondelpark. One of Amsterdam's busiest high streets is the narrow, medieval Kalverstraat in the heart of the city. Other shopping areas include the Negen Straatjes and Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat. Negen Straatjes are nine narrow streets within the Grachtengordel, the concentric canal system of Amsterdam. The Negen Straatjes differ from other shopping districts with the presence of a large diversity of privately owned shops. The Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk were voted best shopping street in the Netherlands in 2011. These streets have as the Negen Straatjes a large diversity of privately owned shops. But as the Negen Straatjes are dominated by fashion stores the Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk offer a very wide variety of all kinds of stores, just to name some specialties: candy and other food related stores, lingerie, sneakers, wedding clothing, interior shops, books, Italian deli's, racing and mountain bikes, skatewear, etc.
The city also features a large number of open-air markets such as the Albert Cuyp Market, Westerstraat-markt, Ten Katemarkt, and Dappermarkt. Some of these markets are held on a daily basis, like the Albert Cuypmarkt and the Dappermarkt. Others, like the Westerstraatmarkt, are held on a weekly basis.
Several fashion brands and designers are based in Amsterdam.
During the later part of the 16th-century Amsterdam's Rederijkerskamer (Chamber of rhetoric) organised contests between different Chambers in the reading of poetry and drama. In 1637, Schouwburg, the first theatre in Amsterdam was built, opening on January 3, 1638. The first ballet performances in the Netherlands were given in Schouwburg in 1642 with the Ballet of the Five Senses. In the 18th century, French theatre became popular. While Amsterdam was under the influence of German music in the 19th century there were few national opera productions; the Hollandse Opera of Amsterdam was built in 1888 for the specific purpose of promoting Dutch opera. In the 19th century, popular culture was centred on the Nes area in Amsterdam (mainly vaudeville and music-hall). An improved metronome was invented in 1812 by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel. The Rijksmuseum (1885) and Stedelijk Museum (1895) were built and opened. In 1888, the Concertgebouworkest orchestra was established. With the 20th century came cinema, radio and television. Though most studios are located in Hilversum and Aalsmeer, Amsterdam's influence on programming is very strong. Many people who work in the television industry live in Amsterdam. Also, the headquarters of the Dutch SBS Broadcasting Group is located in Amsterdam.
The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on the Museumplein (Museum Square), located at the southwestern side of the Rijksmuseum. It was created in the last quarter of the 19th century on the grounds of the former World's fair. The northeastern part of the square is bordered by the very large Rijksmuseum. In front of the Rijksmuseum on the square itself is a long, rectangular pond. This is transformed into an ice rink in winter. The northwestern part of the square is bordered by the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience and Coster Diamonds. The southwestern border of the Museum Square is the Van Baerlestraat, which is a major thoroughfare in this part of Amsterdam. The Concertgebouw is situated across this street from the square. To the southeast of the square are situated a number of large houses, one of which contains the American consulate. A parking garage can be found underneath the square, as well as a supermarket. The Museumplein is covered almost entirely with a lawn, except for the northeastern part of the square which is covered with gravel. The current appearance of the square was realised in 1999, when the square was remodelled. The square itself is the most prominent site in Amsterdam for festivals and outdoor concerts, especially in the summer. Plans were made in 2008 to remodel the square again, because many inhabitants of Amsterdam are not happy with its current appearance.
Van Gogh lived in Amsterdam for a short while and there is a museum dedicated to his work. The museum is housed in one of the few modern buildings in this area of Amsterdam. The building was designed by Gerrit Rietveld. This building is where the permanent collection is displayed. A new building was added to the museum in 1999. This building, known as the performance wing, was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. Its purpose is to house temporary exhibitions of the museum.[[CITE|undefined|http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?page=213&lang=en§ion=sectie_museum]] Some of Van Gogh's most famous paintings, like The Potato Eaters and Sunflowers, are in the collection.[[CITE|undefined|http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?page=425&lang=en§ion=sectie_museum]] The Van Gogh museum is the second most visited museum in Amsterdam, not far behind the Rijksmuseum in terms of the number of visits, being approximately 2.1 million in 2016, for example.
Next to the Van Gogh museum stands the Stedelijk Museum. This is Amsterdam's most important museum of modern art. The museum is as old as the square it borders and was opened in 1895. The permanent collection consists of works of art from artists like Piet Mondriaan, Karel Appel, and Kazimir Malevich. After renovations lasting several years the museum opened in September 2012 with a new composite extension that has been called 'The Bathtub' due to its resemblance to one.
Amsterdam contains many other museums throughout the city.
Amsterdam's musical culture includes a large collection of songs which treat the city nostalgically and lovingly.
AFAS Live (formerly known as the Heineken Music Hall) is a concert hall located near the Johan Cruyff Arena (known as the Amsterdam Arena until 2018). Its main purpose is to serve as a podium for pop concerts for big audiences. Many famous international artists have performed there. Two other notable venues, Paradiso and the Melkweg are located near the Leidseplein. Both focus on broad programming, ranging from indie rock to hip hop, R&B, and other popular genres. Other more subcultural music venues are OCCII, OT301, De Nieuwe Anita, Winston Kingdom and Zaal 100. Jazz has a strong following in Amsterdam, with the Bimhuis being the premier venue. In 2012, Ziggo Dome was opened, also near Amsterdam Arena, a state-of-the-art indoor music arena.
AFAS Live is also host to many electronic dance music festivals, alongside many other venues. Armin van Buuren and Tiesto, some of the world's leading Trance DJ's hail from the Netherlands and perform frequently in Amsterdam. Each year in October, the city hosts the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) which is one of the leading electronic music conferences and one of the biggest club festivals for electronic music in the world, attracting over 350,000 visitors each year. Another popular dance festival is 5daysoff, which takes place in the venues Paradiso and Melkweg. In summer time there are several big outdoor dance parties in or nearby Amsterdam, such as Awakenings, Dance Valley, Mystery Land, Loveland, A Day at the Park, Welcome to the Future, and Valtifest.
Amsterdam has a world-class symphony orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Their home is the Concertgebouw, which is across the Van Baerlestraat from the Museum Square. It is considered by critics to be a concert hall with some of the best acoustics in the world. The building contains three halls, Grote Zaal, Kleine Zaal, and Spiegelzaal. Some nine hundred concerts and other events per year take place in the Concertgebouw, for a public of over 700,000, making it one of the most-visited concert halls in the world. The opera house of Amsterdam is situated adjacent to the city hall. Therefore, the two buildings combined are often called the Stopera, (a word originally coined by protesters against it very construction: Stop the Opera[-house]). This huge modern complex, opened in 1986, lies in the former Jewish neighbourhood at Waterlooplein next to the river Amstel. The Stopera is the homebase of Dutch National Opera, Dutch National Ballet and the Holland Symfonia. Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ is a concert hall, which is situated in the IJ near the central station. Its concerts perform mostly modern classical music. Located adjacent to it, is the Bimhuis, a concert hall for improvised and Jazz music.
Amsterdam has three main theatre buildings.
The Stadsschouwburg at the Leidseplein is the home base of Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The current building dates from 1894. Most plays are performed in the Grote Zaal (Great Hall). The normal programme of events encompasses all sorts of theatrical forms. The Stadsschouwburg is currently being renovated and expanded. The third theatre space, to be operated jointly with next door Melkweg, will open in late 2009 or early 2010.
The Dutch National Opera and Ballet (formerly known as Het Muziektheater), dating from 1986, is the principal opera house and home to Dutch National Opera and Dutch National Ballet. Royal Theatre Carré was built as a permanent circus theatre in 1887 and is currently mainly used for musicals, cabaret performances and pop concerts.
The recently re-opened DeLaMar Theater houses the more commercial plays and musicals.
On the east side of town there is a small theatre in a converted bath house, the Badhuistheater. The theatre often has English programming.
The Netherlands has a tradition of cabaret or kleinkunst, which combines music, storytelling, commentary, theatre and comedy. Cabaret dates back to the 1930s and artists like Wim Kan, Wim Sonneveld and Toon Hermans were pioneers of this form of art in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam is the Kleinkunstacademie (English: Cabaret Academy). Contemporary popular artists are Youp van 't Hek, Freek de Jonge, Herman Finkers, Hans Teeuwen, Theo Maassen, Herman van Veen, Najib Amhali, Raoul Heertje, Jörgen Raymann, Brigitte Kaandorp and Comedytrain. The English spoken comedy scene was established with the founding of Boom Chicago in 1993. They have their own theatre at Leidseplein.
Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife.
In 2008, there were 140 festivals and events in Amsterdam.
Famous festivals and events in Amsterdam include: Koningsdag (which was named Koninginnedag until the crowning of King Willem-Alexander in 2013) (King's Day – Queen's Day); the Holland Festival for the performing arts; the yearly Prinsengrachtconcert (classical concerto on the Prinsen canal) in August; the 'Stille Omgang' (a silent Roman Catholic evening procession held every March); Amsterdam Gay Pride; The Cannabis Cup; and the Uitmarkt. On Koninginnedag—that was held each year on 30 April—hundreds of thousands of people travel to Amsterdam to celebrate with the city's residents and Koningsdag is held on 27 April. The entire city becomes overcrowded with people buying products from the freemarket, or visiting one of the many music concerts.
The yearly Holland Festival attracts international artists and visitors from all over Europe.
Amsterdam is home of the Eredivisie football club AFC Ajax. The stadium Johan Cruyff Arena is the home of Ajax. It is located in the south-east of the city next to the new Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA railway station. Before moving to their current location in 1996, Ajax played their regular matches in De Meer Stadion. In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Summer Olympics. The Olympic Stadium built for the occasion has been completely restored and is now used for cultural and sporting events, such as the Amsterdam Marathon. In 1920, Amsterdam assisted in hosting some of the sailing events for the Summer Olympics held in neighbouring Antwerp, Belgium by hosting events at Buiten Y.
The city holds the Dam to Dam Run, a 16-kilometre (10 mi) race from Amsterdam to Zaandam, as well as the Amsterdam Marathon. The ice hockey team Amstel Tijgers play in the Jaap Eden ice rink. The team competes in the Dutch ice hockey premier league. Speed skating championships have been held on the 400-metre lane of this ice rink.
Amsterdam holds two American football franchises: the Amsterdam Crusaders and the Amsterdam Panthers. The Amsterdam Pirates baseball team competes in the Dutch Major League. There are three field hockey teams: Amsterdam, Pinoké and Hurley, who play their matches around the Wagener Stadium in the nearby city of Amstelveen. The basketball team MyGuide Amsterdam competes in the Dutch premier division and play their games in the Sporthallen Zuid.
There is one rugby club in Amsterdam, which also hosts sports training classes such as RTC (Rugby Talenten Centrum or Rugby Talent Centre) and the National Rugby stadium.
Since 1999 the city of Amsterdam honours the best sportsmen and women at the Amsterdam Sports Awards. Boxer Raymond Joval and field hockey midfielder Carole Thate were the first to receive the awards, in 1999.
The city of Amsterdam is a municipality under the Dutch Municipalities Act. It is governed by a directly elected municipal council, a municipal executive board and a mayor. Since 1981, the municipality of Amsterdam has gradually been divided into semi-autonomous boroughs, called stadsdelen or 'districts'. Over time, a total of 15 boroughs were created. In May 2010, under a major reform, the number of Amsterdam boroughs was reduced to eight: Amsterdam-Centrum covering the city centre including the canal belt, Amsterdam-Noord consisting of the neighbourhoods north of the IJ lake, Amsterdam-Oost in the east, Amsterdam-Zuid in the south, Amsterdam-West in the west, Amsterdam Nieuw-West in the far west, Amsterdam Zuidoost in the southeast, and Westpoort covering the Port of Amsterdam area.
As with all Dutch municipalities, Amsterdam is governed by a directly elected municipal council, a municipal executive board and a government appointed mayor (burgemeester). The mayor is a member of the municipal executive board, but also has individual responsibilies in maintaining public order. On 27 June 2018 Femke Halsema (former member of House of Representatives for GroenLinks from 1998 to 2011) was appointed as the first woman to be Mayor of Amsterdam by the King's Commissioner of North Holland for a six-year term after being nominated by the Amsterdam municipal council. and began serving a six-year term on 12 July 2018. She replaces Eberhard van der Laan (Labour Party) who was the Mayor of Amsterdam from 2010 until his death in October 2017. After the 2014 municipal council elections, a governing majority of D66, VVD and SP was formed – the first coalition without the Labour Party since World War II. Next to the Mayor, the municipal executive board consists of eight wethouders ('alderpersons') appointed by the municipal council: four D66 alderpersons, two VVD alderpersons and two SP alderpersons.
On 18 September 2017 it was announced by Eberhard van der Laan in an open letter to Amsterdam citizens that Kajsa Ollongren would take up his office as acting Mayor of Amsterdam with immediate effect due to ill health. Ollongren was succeeded as acting Mayor by Eric van der Burg on 26 October 2017 and by Jozias van Aartsen on 4 December 2017.
Unlike most other Dutch municipalities, Amsterdam is subdivided into eight boroughs, called stadsdelen or 'districts', a system that was implemented gradually in the 1980s to improve local governance. The boroughs are responsible for many activities that had previously been run by the central city. In 2010, the number of Amsterdam boroughs reached fifteen. Fourteen of those had their own district council (deelraad), elected by a popular vote. The fifteenth, Westpoort, covers the harbour of Amsterdam and had very few residents. Therefore, it was governed by the central municipal council.
Under the borough system, municipal decisions are made at borough level, except for those affairs pertaining to the whole city such as major infrastructure projects, which are the jurisdiction of the central municipal authorities.
The municipal council of Amsterdam voted to maintain the borough system by replacing the district councils with smaller, but still directly elected district committees (bestuurscommissies). Under a municipal ordinance, the new district committees were granted responsibilities through delegation of regulatory and executive powers by the central municipal council.
Statistics Netherlands uses three other definitions of Amsterdam: metropolitan agglomeration Amsterdam (Grootstedelijke Agglomeratie Amsterdam, not to be confused with Grootstedelijk Gebied Amsterdam, a synonym of Groot Amsterdam), Greater Amsterdam (Groot Amsterdam, a COROP region) and the urban region Amsterdam (Stadsgewest Amsterdam). The Amsterdam Department for Research and Statistics uses a fourth conurbation, namely the Stadsregio Amsterdam ('City Region of Amsterdam'). The city region is similar to Greater Amsterdam but includes the municipalities of Zaanstad and Wormerland. It excludes Graft-De Rijp.
The smallest of these areas is the municipality of Amsterdam with a population of 802,938 in 2013. The conurbation had a population of 1,096,042 in 2013. It includes the municipalities of Zaanstad, Wormerland, Oostzaan, Diemen and Amstelveen only, as well as the municipality of Amsterdam. Greater Amsterdam includes 15 municipalities, and had a population of 1,293,208 in 2013. Though much larger in area, the population of this area is only slightly larger, because the definition excludes the relatively populous municipality of Zaanstad. The largest area by population, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (Dutch: Metropoolregio Amsterdam), has a population of 2,33 million. It includes for instance Zaanstad, Wormerland, Muiden, Abcoude, Haarlem, Almere and Lelystad but excludes Graft-De Rijp. Amsterdam is part of the conglomerate metropolitan area Randstad, with a total population of 6,659,300 inhabitants.
Of these various metropolitan area configurations, only the Stadsregio Amsterdam (City Region of Amsterdam) has a formal governmental status. Its responsibities include regional spatial planning and the metropolitan public transport concessions.
Under the Dutch Constitution, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. Since the 1983 constitutional revision, the constitution mentions "Amsterdam" and "capital" in chapter 2, article 32: The king's confirmation by oath and his coronation take place in "the capital Amsterdam" ("de hoofdstad Amsterdam"). Previous versions of the constitution only mentioned "the city of Amsterdam" ("de stad Amsterdam"). For a royal investiture, therefore, the States General of the Netherlands (the Dutch Parliament) meets for a ceremonial joint session in Amsterdam. The ceremony traditionally takes place at the Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square, immediately after the former monarch has signed the act of abdication at the nearby Royal Palace of Amsterdam. Normally, however, the Parliament sits in The Hague, the city which has historically been the seat of the Dutch government, the Dutch monarchy, and the Dutch supreme court. Foreign embassies are also located in The Hague.
The coat of arms of Amsterdam is composed of several historical elements.
Four fare-free GVB ferries carry pedestrians and cyclists across the IJ lake to the borough of Amsterdam-Noord, and two fare-charging ferries run east and west along the harbour. There are also privately operated water taxis, a water bus, a boat sharing operation, electric rental boats and canal cruises, that transport people along Amsterdam's waterways.
Regional buses, and some suburban buses, are operated by Connexxion and EBS. International coach services are provided by Eurolines from Amsterdam Amstel railway station, IDBUS from Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station, and Megabus from the Zuiderzeeweg in the east of the city.
In order to facilitate easier transport to the center of Amsterdam, the city has various P+R Locations where people can park their car at an affordable price and transfer to one of the numerous public transport lines.
Amsterdam was intended in 1932 to be the hub, a kind of Kilometre Zero, of the highway system of the Netherlands, with freeways numbered One to Eight planned to originate from the city. The outbreak of the Second World War and shifting priorities led to the current situation, where only roads A1, A2, and A4 originate from Amsterdam according to the original plan. The A3 to Rotterdam was cancelled in 1970 in order to conserve the Groene Hart. Road A8, leading north to Zaandam and the A10 Ringroad were opened between 1968 and 1974. Besides the A1, A2, A4 and A8, several freeways, such as the A7 and A6, carry traffic mainly bound for Amsterdam.
The A10 ringroad surrounding the city connects Amsterdam with the Dutch national network of freeways. Interchanges on the A10 allow cars to enter the city by transferring to one of the 18 city roads, numbered S101 through to S118. These city roads are regional roads without grade separation, and sometimes without a central reservation. Most are accessible by cyclists. The S100 Centrumring is a smaller ringroad circumnavigating the city's centre.
In the city centre, driving a car is discouraged.
Amsterdam is served by ten stations of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways). Five are intercity stops: Sloterdijk, Zuid, Amstel, Bijlmer ArenA and Amsterdam Centraal. The stations for local services are: Lelylaan, RAI, Holendrecht, Muiderpoort and Science Park. Amsterdam Centraal is also an international railway station. From the station there are regular services to destinations such as Austria, Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Among these trains are international trains of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Amsterdam-Berlin), the Eurostar (Amsterdam-Brussels-London), Thalys (Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris/Lille), and Intercity-Express (Amsterdam–Cologne–Frankfurt).
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal station and is served by domestic and international intercity trains, such as Thalys, Eurostar and Intercity Brussel. Schiphol is the largest airport in the Netherlands, the third largest in Europe, and the 14th-largest in the world in terms of passengers. It handles over 68 million passengers per year and is the home base of four airlines, KLM, Transavia, Martinair and Arkefly. As of 2014, Schiphol was the fifth busiest airport in the world measured by international passenger numbers. This airport is 4 meters below sea level.
Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world and is a centre of bicycle culture with good facilities for cyclists such as bike paths and bike racks, and several guarded bike storage garages (fietsenstalling) which can be used.
In 2013, there were about 1,200,000 bicycles in Amsterdam outnumbering the number of citizens in the city. Theft is widespread—in 2011, about 83,000 bicycles were stolen in Amsterdam. Bicycles are used by all socio-economic groups because of their convenience, Amsterdam's small size, the 400 kilometres (249 miles) of bike paths, the flat terrain, and the inconvenience of driving an automobile.
Amsterdam has two universities: the University of Amsterdam (Universiteit van Amsterdam, UvA), and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). Other institutions for higher education include an art school – Gerrit Rietveld Academie, a university of applied sciences – the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, and the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten. Amsterdam's International Institute of Social History is one of the world's largest documentary and research institutions concerning social history, and especially the history of the labour movement. Amsterdam's Hortus Botanicus, founded in the early 17th century, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, with many old and rare specimens, among them the coffee plant that served as the parent for the entire coffee culture in Central and South America.
There are over 200 primary schools in Amsterdam. Some of these primary schools base their teachings on particular pedagogic theories like the various Montessori schools. The biggest Montessori high school in Amsterdam is the Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam. Many schools, however, are based on religion. This used to be primarily Roman Catholicism and various Protestant denominations, but with the influx of Muslim immigrants there has been a rise in the number of Islamic schools. Jewish schools can be found in the southern suburbs of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is noted for having five independent grammar schools (Dutch: gymnasia), the Vossius Gymnasium, Barlaeus Gymnasium, St. Ignatius Gymnasium, Het 4e Gymnasium and the Cygnus Gymnasium where a classical curriculum including Latin and classical Greek is taught. Though believed until recently by many to be an anachronistic and elitist concept that would soon die out, the gymnasia have recently experienced a revival, leading to the formation of a fourth and fifth grammar school in which the three aforementioned schools participate. Most secondary schools in Amsterdam offer a variety of different levels of education in the same school. The city also has various colleges ranging from art and design to politics and economics which are mostly also available for students coming from other countries.
Schools for foreign nationals in Amsterdam include the Amsterdam International Community School, British School of Amsterdam, Albert Einstein International School Amsterdam, Lycée Vincent van Gogh La Haye-Amsterdam primary campus (French school), International School of Amsterdam, and the Japanese School of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a prominent centre for national and international media.
Amsterdam is home to the second-largest Dutch commercial TV group SBS Broadcasting Group, consisting of TV-stations SBS 6, Net 5 and Veronica. However, Amsterdam is not considered 'the media city of the Netherlands'. The town of Hilversum, 30 kilometres (19 miles) south-east of Amsterdam, has been crowned with this unofficial title. Hilversum is the principal centre for radio and television broadcasting in the Netherlands. Radio Netherlands, heard worldwide via shortwave radio since the 1920s, is also based there. Hilversum is home to an extensive complex of audio and television studios belonging to the national broadcast production company NOS, as well as to the studios and offices of all the Dutch public broadcasting organisations and many commercial TV production companies.
In 2012, the music video of Far East Movement, 'Live My Life', was filmed in various parts of Amsterdam.
Also, several movies were filmed in Amsterdam, such as James Bond's Diamonds Are Forever, Ocean's Twelve, Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Hitman's Bodyguard. Amsterdam is also featured in John Green's book The Fault in Our Stars, which has been made into a film as well that partly takes place in Amsterdam.
The housing market is heavily regulated.
From the late 1960s onwards many buildings in Amsterdam have been squatted both for housing and for using as social centres. A number of these squats have legalised and become well known, such as OCCII, OT301, Paradiso and Vrankrijk.