Fun Facts About Amsterdam

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What began as a small fishing village on the Amstel is now an international capital with an edge.

Amsterdam began as a small fishing village on the Amstel River in the latter half of the 12th century. Four centuries after its Golden Age heyday, Holland’s capital is a charismatic global village and edgy European capital that attracts some 20 million tourists annually. While some come for tulips, cheese, and windmills, others are lured by the city’s tolerant vibe and easy access to sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.

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Look closely to see 7 bridges at this crossing near Reguliersgracht and Keizersgracht.

Nearly everyone is charmed by Amsterdam’s picture postcard beauty, world-class museums and colorful counterculture. Yet few know the city is more culturally diverse than any other international capital, that canal houses are insanely narrow because residents were once taxed on the width of their properties, and that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice, Italy, which has earned its reputation as the Amsterdam of the South.A'damStats-1

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True to their Calvinist roots, Amsterdammers keep their curtains open, having nothing to hide.

What’s more, did you realize that much of the city is supported by stilts, that locals like to keep their curtains open all the time thanks to Calvinist roots that preach they have nothing to hide, and that “coffeeshop” means something altogether different than a place to grab a cup of joe? To adopt a cat, you can go to the only animal sanctuary that floats—De Poezenboot, Amsterdam’s houseboat turned cat shelter, moored on the Singel Canal.

There’s more for cat lovers at the new Kopjes cat café in the city’s De Baarsjes neighborhood, as well as Katten Kabinet, a small museum devoted to cats in art through the ages, from ancient works by early Chinese and Egyptian artists to masterpieces by Toulouse Lautrec and Picasso. Enter the feline world at the Katten Kabinet.While the city is home to internationally renowned repositories of art like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, it also encompasses museums devoted to small bags and purses, marijuana, sex, beer, cheese, tulips, houseboats, fluorescent light and more.

Check out this infographic for more fascinating facts about the city that captured my heart in 2007 and welcomed me as a resident five years ago:

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Can you add the 26th fun fact? Share in the comments below!

Infographic Credit: whenonearth.net

20 comments

  1. Judging by my recent visit, the Red Light District will be one of the safer parts of the city by virtue of not existing! If the Council wants to kill it off, Amsterdam Tourism will have to stop trading on it also.

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    • Not sure where you went, but the RLD is alive and well in Amsterdam. It’s also one of the prettiest and safest parts of the city by virtue of videocams everywhere + pimps who watch out for the ladies. There are fewer prostitutes than when I first came here in 2007, as the city is cracking down and trying to limit them, but there still plenty of prostitutes of all shapes + sizes, selling their bodies in cabins with red lights in De Wallen.

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      • We”ll have to agree to differ. I was there this Summer and with all the rather pointless shops that have been forced in between the rooms in the area the Red Light District was a shadow of its former self. I cannot see how it will survive. If that is what the Municipality wants, fine but why can’t they be honest about it.

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        • Interesting perspective. Yes, the RLD is a shadow of its former self because the city DOESN’T want it. But tourists do, and it brings in boatloads of tax revenue. Remember, hookers pay taxes here, just like ordinary folk. Not sure about the pimps, though. Thanks for your feedback + readership!

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  2. Very interesting post to find something new about Amsterdam. Nice comparison on the 3rd image – there are as many bikes in the city as flowers! 🙂 It is a time to visit Amsterdam and discover all it’s beauty personally!

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  3. It shocks me that the RLD is actually one of the safest spots in the city, specially since I’m traveling with a girl, I had a hard time convincing her to get in there, but now I’ve looked around and it actually kinda makes sense for it to be a safe place; after all it’s one of the city spotslights!
    Also I didn’t know the quantity of museums the city has, I guess I’ll look around to see if there’s one aside from the Van Gogh museum that I may like to check out!

    Thanks for the facts, some of them makes you wanna know more about Amsterdam!

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  4. As a soon to be tourist for one month in Amsterdam,I have to say…I would love to see that cat house! I can’t imagine how look like a house with hundred of cats…simply floating on water! Amsterdam seems to be a rich in curiousness city, guess I am about to fall in love with it!
    Thank you for your blog. It is really interesting 🙂

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  5. That’s a really nice way to learn more about this city ! I’d love to see the floating cat shelter, that’s amazing ! And we have to go to the kopjes café, Le café des chats in Paris is pretty cool, but this one looks incredible.
    I went to Venice last March, and I have to admit I had NO IDEA Amsterdam had so many canals, that’s incredible. Since I already fell in love with the Amsterdam of the South, I guess that the real one will really blow my mind, can’t wait !
    Very nice blog you have here, thanks for all the info.
    Cheers,
    Annabelle.

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  6. Love this post! In 1 month I’ll get there and this information is really useful, thanks a lot! I’m already prepared for a bike tour and hope not to end up in any Amsterdam’s canal haha 😉

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  7. Ahahaha it’s damn amusing that there are more bicycles than people and that bikes are the number one stolen item in Amsterdam! And that XXX stands for something wholly different. Heh, nice informative post.

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  8. This is great! I would have never thought that the Red light district would be one of the safest parts of Amsterdam. I can’t wait to experience the city for myself!

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  9. Love this article!!Its a short and quick presentation of the city. It’s suprising that unlike in the rest of the world coffeshops are different in Amsterdam.I hope to experience some of this interesting facts…I myself am a big animal lover and especially I’m in love with cats, I think that De Poezenboot can be my favourite place in the city…I can’t wait to add a 26-th fact to this post…

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    • I’m no beer aficionado, but Amsterdam is better known for sex, drugs + rock & roll than beer (Heineken really doesn’t count in my book…sorry.) That said, we do have some great craft breweries.

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