Amsterdam, for many people is the most handsome, most welcoming, most tolerant city in the Europe. Built on shifting sandbanks, Amsterdam was the first planned city in the world, but only the technological advances of the past two hundred years could bring to full glory the vision of the seventeenth century pioneers.
Bit by painful bit, the Dutch created the first bourgeois society in the world, and those ideals of cleanliness, decency and honest toil still remain. Yet Amsterdam is a paradoxical city; it reflects faithfully the permissive changes the 1960’s passion for tolerance, stoutly defends your right to differ, even if he doesn’t like it. The traditional virtues hold; Amsterdam is a city you feel safe in, that is small enough to cover within a week. On the hand it looks like a living, lovingly maintained museum celebrating a glorious past, whilst on the other hand you will see the alternative society making its mark. This is the charm os Amsterdam; respect for the past, enjoyment of the present, and curiosity about the future.
By the middle ages, the country was an assemblage of dukedoms all vassala of the German Emperor. Then on a sandbank where the river Amstel flows into the IJ river, and an inlet of the inner sea known as the Zuyder Zee, a group of fisher folk settled. They dammed the river to prevent the tides sweeping in, stubbornly maintaining and improving this unlikely, unlovely little settlement against every kind of flood. The village was strategically placed; cargoes had to be transferred between sea going and river-going ships and this made the enterprising villagers some extra money. The settlement stayed, and become known as Amstelredamme-the dam on the Amstel.
The foundations of the city date back to 1274, when Count Floris V of Holland granted it a toll freedom, thus putting the obscure but flourishing community on the map. Following the occurrence of a miracle, in 1345, it became a place of pilgrimage and the devout came from all over Europe. Commerce continued to thrive, with ships coming down from the Baltic, up from the South, out from Franec; and England sought the safe, protected anchorage of the litle port. The town, mainly built of lath and plaster, a precious little local stone was to be found nearly burned down in 1452, and from that time brick building became compulsory. By the beginning of the sixteenth century the town comprised about2,000 houses and many religious buildings and communities. The seventeenth century is called the Golden Age, Amsterdam was well knowm for ite tolerance and refugees from all over Europe came to the city bringing skills and money. The Dutch shipowners settled the Far East trade and formed the firstmultinational in the world the VOC, the United Eastindies Company, which at its height, owend 150 merchant ships, 40 warships and commanded 10.000 soldiers. Amsterdam became the first port and market of the world. Amsterdam became a very wealthy town and arts and architecture flourished. The modern city of Amsterdam still reflects the grandeur of the past in its beautiful downtowm area, where on the numerous canals still hundreds of seventeen century houses remain. The city is also famous for its museums of which the Rijksmuseum and the van Goghmuseum are the most well known, but if you have time you should also visit the Amsterdam Historical museum and the Navigation museum, both will give you intresting information about the history of the city.