Schiphol Tourist Attractions
Amsterdam is the capital and the large city of the Netherlands, a country rich in waterways and low on mountains.
The Dutch landscape surrounding the capital is mainly flat with most areas being just at sea level. Famous for their Gouda and Edam cheese, ancient canals, wooden clogs, weed and windmills, the Dutch have perfected the art of reclaiming land from the North Sea.
Amsterdam itself lies just 2 meters above sea level and is traversed by many 17th century canals and the Amstel River, a district called the Grachtengordel, a city center area that made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.
Amsterdam tourist attractions are plentiful. As home to some of the world's finest art collections and museums, the Dutch capital can boast among its treasures the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The former is the Dutch national museum that showcases mainly paintings and art works from the Golden Age of Dutch commerce and exploration. There is also a large collection of Asian art on show at the Rijksmuseum, partly due to the Asian territories held by the Dutch in from the 17th century onwards until imperialism waned and Dutch territories overseas became independent. The museum itself was erected around 1895 and is an imposing, turreted building in a Gothic and Renaissance style.
Most of the historic Amsterdam tourist attractions can be found in the Museumplein district of the city. The Van Gogh Museum ranks world-wide as the 23rd most visited museum – which would have astonished the artist, who during his lifetime struggled to make a living, as nobody wanted to buy his paintings. The museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings, sketches and drawings in the world and last year more than 11.6 million visitors came to see them.
Thanks to the many canals that criss-cross the heart of Amsterdam, the city is often referred to as the "Venice of the North" and it is easy to see why, since all that is missing to complete the romantic picture are a gondola or two! There are more than 100 km of waterways with no fewer than 90 islands and visitors can try out at least 1,500 bridges.
These canals rank as Amsterdam tourist attractions number one, since it is hard not to fall under the spell of their beauty. The three main canals are called Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht and are flanked on either side by some 1550 historic buildings. The oldest canals date back to the Golden Age of Dutch commerce, when all the world was their oyster and Dutch ships ruled the oceans in the 17th century.
Rich merchants, some of them billionaires by today's standard, built stunningly beautiful houses alongside the canals, some as richly ornate in their design as any regal palace. At night, when the Keizersgracht is lit up and the city assumes its very distinct and unique romantic aspect, tourists could be forgiven for believing themselves to be in Venice – if it weren't for the Dutch climate, which is typically cold and very damp.
At Zwanenburgwal tourists are typically speechless at the beauty of the street. The painter Rembrandt and the philosopher Spinoza once resided here. Rembrandt, who lived between 1606 and 1669, painted many aspects of the city and its people. Regarded as one of the greatest painters and print-makers in European history, he is the very embodiment of what the Dutch were able to achieve during the Golden Age. He left some 600 paintings, 2,000 drawings and approximately 400 etchings and his perhaps most famous painting, the Night Watch, is exhibited at the Rijksmuseum.
Among the other main Amsterdam tourist attractions is the Anne Frank House, a permanent exhibition dedicated to the young Jewish woman Anne Frank who hid out for two years with her family in a hidden annex in a house at Prinsengracht No. 263 during the Nazi occupation in WWII. Anne kept a diary and movingly documented her time in their hiding place.
The Koninklijk Paleis, the Royal Palace, also ranks high among Amsterdam tourist attractions. Located in Dam Square in the heart of the city, the palace was originally designed as a City Hall for the rich and powerful city magistrates of the Dutch capital. As one of three palaces that are frequented by the Dutch Royal family, the Royal Palace is often used for Royal and State events. It is open to the general public for most days of the week, all year round.
As Amsterdam stretches over a very large urban area, it makes sense to hire a car – if not a boat! There are numerous gardens, palaces, manor houses to visit and just taking a trip by car along the canals is an unforgettable experience.
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