Picturesque Amsterdam, Netherlands

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ESSENTIALS

Population: 780,152
Language: Dutch, English
Currency: Euro

DOWNTIME

Amsterdam, one of the most bicycle-friendly capitals in the world, is a progressive cutting-edge modern architectural metropolis perfectly blending old and new.

Amsterdam is a progressive cutting-edge modern architectural metropolis, only two meters above sea level. The river Amstel runs through the city center, connecting a large number of canals that eventually terminate in the IJ, the city’s waterfront. The capital’s canal system is a result of rigorous city planning dating back in the early 17th Century and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010.

The grachtengordel (girdle of canals) is a great way to explore the old city center by boat. The capital of the Netherlands is also one of the most bicycle-friendly capitals in the world, offering great facilities for cyclists with numerous safe bike paths and several bike storage garages.

Amsterdam has a rich architectural history offering a range of different styles, from 17th-Century residences and the 18th-Century classicism, to Art Deco and the modern architecture developed organically between façades of historical buildings. The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen, built in 1306. The modern buildings and bridges on Amsterdam's Eastern Harbor Islands offer a stark contrast to the 17th- and 18th-Century designs that dominate the old city.

A number of museums also offer the chance to delve into the city’s past. Amsterdams Historisch Museum maps the last eight centuries of urban evolution using quirky found objects like 700-year-old shoes. Another popular highlight is the Van Gogh Museum, with 200 paintings and 500 drawings produced by the artistic genius, as well as Japanese paintings and works by his one-time collaborator Gauguin. Moreover the Rijksmuseum has amassed the country's largest collection of art and artifacts from the 15th Century until 1900, including 40 Rembrandts and four Vermeers.

Amsterdam is a delight to visit any time of year. The city has a strong social atmosphere. Its cafés are always full of lively groups of people and it has an endless parade of festivals, over 90 a year; in the summer there is the Holland Festival, one of the oldest performing festivals taking place every June, and the Roots Music Festival. 

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