Travel Amsterdam with us
Think Amsterdam and chances are that most people would think of the beautiful waterways and maybe even the red light district. However, a good Amsterdam tour package will make travellers realise that this city has much more to offer. There are several parks and gardens, all of which are maintained with care and precision; age-old buildings, which still stand as if in their prime and of course, shopping and dining venues. Whether tourists are arriving alone, with their better half or the entire clan,
The "Amsterdam" that most visitors experience is the city centre, the semi-circle with Centraal Station at its apex. It corresponds to the city as it was around 1850. Five major concentric canals ring the Binnenstad: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Singelgracht, together forming the Canal District. Other districts inside the city centre are the Jordaan, a former working class area now popular with yuppies, and Plantage, a leafy and spacious area with botanical gardens and the zoo. The Nassaukade, Stadhouderskade and Mauritskade surround the city centre and mark the location of the former city moat and fortifications. Almost everything outside this line was built after 1870.
The semi-circle is on the south side of the IJ, which is often called a river but more exactly is an estuary. Going east from Centraal Station, the railway passes the artificial islands of the redeveloped Eastern Docklands. North of the IJ is mainly housing, although a major dockland redevelopment has started there too.
Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centres in Europe, with about 7,000 registered historic buildings. The street pattern has been largely unchanged since the 19th century—there was no major bombing during World War II. The centre consists of 90 islands linked by 400 bridges, some of them beautifully lit at night.
The inner part of the city centre, the Binnenstad, dates from medieval times. The oldest streets are the Warmoesstraat and the Zeedijk in the Oudezijde of the Binnenstad. As buildings were made of wood in the Middle Ages, not many of this period's buildings have survived. Two medieval wooden houses did survive though, at Begijnhof 34 and Zeedijk 1. Other old houses are Warmoesstraat 83 (built around 1400), Warmoesstraat 5 (around 1500) and Begijnhof 2-3 (around 1425). The Begijnhof is a late-medieval enclosed courtyard with the houses of beguines, Roman Catholic women living in a semi-religious community. Beguines are found in Northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and north-western Germany. House number 34 at the Begijnhof is the oldest home in Amsterdam. Entry to the courtyard and surrounding gardens is free, but be careful not to disturb the local community still living here.