The heart of Amsterdam is ‘the Dam’. In the 13th century, the dam was built here in the river Amstel. The name of the city was born. The first ‘Amsterdammers’ were fishermen and merchants who got freedom of toll from Count Floris the 5th. It flourished as a trading center. Amsterdam’s coat of arms dates from this era as well. A figure bears the 3 ‘St. Andrew’s crosses’. Some say these 3 crosses represent the 3 enemies of the city: water, fire and the plaque.
The city developed quite rapidly and around 1613 the digging of the three main canals started. After the conquest of Antwerp by the Spanish in 1685, Amsterdam became the biggest and one of the richest cities of the world. During that time, it also became leading center for finance and diamonds. A position that would be held until around 1700. After the 80-year war with Spain, many people were drawn to Amsterdam and it became known for its relative religious tolerance. Jews from Spain and Portugal, Huguenots from France and economic and religious refugees found their safety in Amsterdam. Also the number of artists grew enormously.
The 17th century is considered to be the Golden Age of Amsterdam. The merchants of Amsterdam had the largest share in both the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company. Therefore Amsterdam got wealthy for nearly 200 years, by establishing trading links all over the world. The reflection of this prosperity can be seen in the construction of monumental, architectural masterpieces.
After the French invasion, Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Kingdom of Holland in 1806 and his brother became King of Holland in 1810. The nation’s population rebelled. During the congress in Vienna, in 1813, it was decided that the Netherlands were to become a monarchy. After the recession, Amsterdam recovered during the Industrial Revolution and expanded. The North sea canal was dug and connects the port of Amsterdam with the Northsea. This canal was a positive development for the Dutch economy.
During the 19th century new public buildings were erected. The Rijksmuseum opened in 1885 and Centraal Station was built in 1889. The Stedelijk Museum opened in 1895. Rembrandt House Museum opened in 1911.
The Netherlands stayed neutral during the First World War but there were food shortages. As a result, there were riots in Amsterdam in 1917. After the war, new housing developments were built in Amsterdam to replace slums. In 1928 the Olympics were held in Amsterdam. Then in the 1930s work began on creating a park called the Amsterdamse Bos.
10th of May,1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands during Second World War. Many lives were taken due to starvation and as a result of the deportation of the Jews to Nazi concentration camps. The house of Anne Frank where she and her family were hiding, is one the most popular attractions nowadays. Amsterdam lost 10 percent of its inhabitants. After the war, Amsterdam flourished again. Then in the 1960s Amsterdam was a haven for hippies. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, new museums opened in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum opened in 1973. The Joods Historisch Museum opened in 1987. Foam Photography Museum opened in 2001 and Diamond Museum opened in 2007. Hermitage Amsterdam opened in 2009. Today Amsterdam has a population of 820,000.