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Monday, 8 August 2011


Amsterdam was settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century. The name means 'dam on the Amstel.'

The earliest recorded use of the name "Amsterdam" is from a certificate dated October 27, 1275, when the inhabitants, who had built a bridge with a dam across the Amstel, were exempted from paying a bridge toll by Count Floris V.

The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen. It was consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint.

The Oude Kerk

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is considered the oldest in the world. It was established in 1602 by the Dutch East India Company.

Amsterdam reached its apex as an intellectual and artistic centre during the ‘golden age’ of the 17th century, and became a centre of liberal thought and book printing. It was the leading center for finance and diamonds.

Amsterdam lost over 10% of its population to plague in 1623–1625, and again in 1635–1636, 1655, and 1664. Nevertheless, the population of Amsterdam rose in the 17th century (largely through immigration) from 50,000 to 200,000.

The constitution of 1814 made Amsterdam the royal capital of the Netherlands; however, The Hague is the administrative capital.

Amsterdam is connected to the North Sea by the North Sea Canal, completed in 1876.

Fog in Amsterdam was so thick in December 1893 that 79 people fell into the city’s canals in just one night, 20 of whom drowned.

Amsterdam was occupied by the Germans during World War II (1940–45), and suffered severe hardship. Most of the city's Jews (c. 75,000 in 1940) were deported and exterminated by the Germans.

On average, one car a week ends up in Amsterdam's canals.

Sources Wikipedia,  Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2011. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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