Exploring

Amsterdam is a metropolis of the ‘multi’: it is multi-ethnic, multilingual, multimedia and certainly multicultural. In fact, there’s a lot of everything in this international city of business and creativity, known as the playground of Holland.

The swampy piece of land which was granted a city charter by Count Floris V in 1275 was home even then to traders and seafarers. Perhaps it’s because of this early, open world view that, as early as the 17th century, artisans and traders fled to Amsterdam from the Spanish rule in the south.

Trade and business continues to pulse through the heart of the nation’s capital, with a myriad of international businesses here, attracted by the highly skilled, educated workforce available and, among other things, Schiphol Airport, which has links to more than 200 international cities.

The city continues to attract the artists, students, rebels and renegades looking for the tolerance that Amsterdam is famous for. There is an extremely strong community of diverse cultural and ethnic groups; perhaps the best reflection of Amsterdam’s liberal ethos was the city’s celebration of its first legalised same-sex civil marriages in 2001.

More than four million tourists a year are attracted to the cosmopolitan city of old world charm. They come for a variety of reasons: there are those who wish to visit the Red Light District and coffeeshops, those with ‘museum mania’, and people who simply want to explore the wonderfully walkable city’s more than 100 canals and 1,200 bridges.

Walking is by far the easiest way to get around the city, and also one of the most enjoyable, as there are so many artistic details to be spotted on every street. Trams are convenient and cover the city extensively, but of course, the quintessential Dutch mode of transport is everywhere… the bicycle.

Recent years have seen the city fathers begin a major refurbishment of the Amsterdam, which is only mid-way through as yet. Unfortunately this means that occasionally the city can seem under construction, but this won’t last forever, and it is really only noticeable along the new North/South Metro line which is still being built.

The once medieval city has continued to expand and grow, most strikingly by developing the northern islands and harbour area behind Centraal Station. This area, along with housing residential developments, is also home to some of the finest new architecture and cultural institutions in the city, offering an internationally renowned selection of music, theatre, art, photography, film, festivals, dance, and museums.

Each of Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods have their own particular personality, be it the slightly faded Jordaan, the concentrated grandeur of the Museum District, or the drunken revelry of the Red Light District. Each of these patchworks make up the fantastic quilt which is the city of Amsterdam.

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