Amsterdam is the capital of Netherlands which lies in Western Europe. Netherlands (sometimes known as Holland) is bordered by the North Sea, Germany and Belgium. The Dutch form 83% of the population while the remaining 17% includes Turks, Moroccans, Antilleans, Surinamese and Indonesians. According to the Dutch, The Netherlands has more museums per capita than any other country — 800 or so, they say. It also has ample number of Historical Churches, Concert Halls and Art Galleries not to mention the huge number of Botanical gardens and parks which also house the famous tulips.
Because of its connectivity to all major European cities, Amsterdam is popularly known as the Gateway to Europe. It is also known as the Venice of the North because of the number of canals that encircle and run through the city. For this reason one will find houseboats and canal boats in plenty. Amsterdam is also well known for its monuments and historical buildings. Many of these old buildings are along the canal which encircle the city centre.
The name Amsterdam comes from the combination of the river Amstel and the dam that was built on it in order to found the original village there. The well known Amstel beer in fact was named after the river, because that?s where it was brewed.
Even though Amsterdam is the capital of Netherlands, unlike most countries, the seat of the Government is not situated here but in Hague. The Hague is the official seat of the Dutch Government. The Hague is also the residence of the Dutch Queen and features the Houses of Parliament and the famous Peace Palace and the Home of the International Court of Justice.
Some of the places we visited in Amsterdam
The Mint Tower
The ‘Munttoren’ or Mint Tower is a famous historical monument and it was a part of the old town wall in the Middle Ages. The name ‘Mint Tower’ came about in the year 1672 when Amsterdam gained the right to strike its own coins here.
Delft Blue Pottery Factory
This is the last remaining factory from the 17th century. Delftware is world famous for its hand painted pottery. The techniques used in painting the designs on the earthenware pottery are very old and this craft has been passed down from generations. Even though the most famous of these designs is the blue and white finish, there are also other designs in multi-colours. Most of these designs are inspired by Chinese paintwork and scenes.
After taking a tour of the factory tourists can also buy keepsakes from here.
The Cheese Factory
In the cheese factory it is possible to see how cheese is made in the traditional way. Rows and rows of cheese is placed on a rack for ageing. The older the cheese the more its value and taste. The cheese carriers wear traditional historical costumes. There is also a cheese farm here.
Miniature city Madurodam
The Miniature city of Madurodam is the largest miniature city in the world and is open to tourists all twelve months of the year.
Here, you will find that the monuments and other major tourist attractions of Holland are all replicated in miniature on a 1:25 scale, keeping in mind all the minute details of the structures. All are set in 5 acres of beautiful garden area. Windmills turn, ships sail trough the harbour and trains are traversing the city on the world’s largest miniature railway.
Surprising as it might sound, there is a Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam also. The museum here shows royalties and celebrities as well as the history of the Netherlands. It is situated at the Dam Square and is absolutely worth a visit to see those lifelike wax statues of famous people.
Other places of tourist interest are the Heinekin Brewery, the restored windmill Village, the Dam Square, The Wooden Shoe (Clog) Factory and Museum and the various flower shows and exhibitions.
The easiest and cheapest way to get around the city is by train. There are depots at every junction and they display the train schedules which are very easy to follow – yellow signs for departures, blue for arrivals. Trains are prompt, and they stop in the station only for a few minutes. For traveling short distances, trams are the best. Another unique way of transport are the waterways of Amsterdam. And as for bicycles, you will find them everywhere in Amsterdam.
Mumbai to Amsterdam, Direct flight – 8.5 hrs. costs Approx 28000 with tax.
Amstedam to Belgium is 3 hrs by Train
Local language – Dutch.
Timings Off hrs are 9-5
Best time to visit during May June July.
Author: Krishna Prasad Rao- Oman