Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. Its name is derived from Amstel dam, indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel where the Dam Square is today.
Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were formed.
The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, part of Euronext, is located in the city centre. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, its red-light district and its many cannabis coffee shops, draw 4.2 million tourists annually.
Amsterdam Art City
In 2009 Amsterdam will be an Art City. The city will be brimming over with cultural attractions. There will be a tremendous range of remarkable exhibitions for you to visit. And two important museums will be opening their doors to the public: the Hermitage Amsterdam and the new Stedelijk Museum. Amsterdam has always been a leading cultural centre, with top attractions such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The opening of the Hermitage Amsterdam and the renovated Stedelijk Museum and the impressive range of exclusive exhibitions such as Holy Inspiration in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) will make a visit to Amsterdam an absolute must in 2009.
Things to do
Every year there are around 19,000 performances in Amsterdam. And then there are additional festivals, exhibitions, tours and events not even included in that total. In short, the cultural agenda in Amsterdam is very varied and busy, so an overview of what’s on throughout the year is essential.
Places to go
Once in town, the amount of things to do can be overwhelming. Do your homework beforehand as there's loads to see and do. Make a shortlist of must-sees. Choose from internationally renowned museums and sights, explore the markets, quirky boutiques and department stores—and unwind with a visit to one of the many parks.
Where to stay
Visiting Amsterdam for business, holiday or a romantic getaway? The city offers a vast selection of hotels and quaint B&Bs, as well as affordable youth hostels. Amsterdam has rooms in all price ranges and styles. For more information about accommodation in Amsterdam and other interesting cities in Europe, go to Medestino.com.