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Amsterdam fun facts

If being in self-isolation is leaving you yearning for a holiday more than ever, here are 10 fun facts about Amsterdam. The ideal post-isolation city break destination. 

  • Amsterdam got its name from the Amstel river
  • Amsterdam is the new capital of the Netherlands
  • Amsterdam lies below sea level
  • Amsterdam has over 100 canals
  • There are over 2,000 houseboats in Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam is home to dancing houses
  • Amsterdam’s tap water is safe to drink
  • Amsterdam is home to some of the most famous museums in the world
  • Amsterdam’s floating flower market 
  • Amsterdam’s tourists drastically outweighs its locals

Amsterdam got its name from the Amstel river 

Amsterdam was founded as a fishing village in the 12th century. The city grew around the Amstel river and was protected by a dam that prevented flooding from the  ZuiderZee (South Sea). Thus the name Amsterdam was given to the city as a combination of Amsel and Dam. 

Image by Giorgio Baresi

Amsterdam is the new capital of the Netherlands 

Amsterdam only became the official capital of the Netherlands in 1983. Prior to this, everyone assumed that Amsterdam was the capital but it was never official. Despite being the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam isn’t the political capital. The Netherlands government buildings are actually housed in Hague.

Amsterdam lies below sea level 

Half of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, is situated below sea level. In the 12th and 13th century, residents would dig ditches and remove water to pump windmills. This resulted in the ground getting progressively lower to the point where half of the Netherlands now remains 2 meters below sea level. Without the dikes and dunes that are enforced every year, the Netherlands would be submerged underwater.

Amsterdam has over 100 canals 

There are 165 canals across Amsterdam, which separate the city into 90 different islands. The majority of them were built in the 17th century, during the Dutch Golden Age. They now have a combined length of 100km. Amsterdam is notorious for its canals, so much so that the historic Canal Belt, or ‘Grachtengordel’ in Dutch, is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. 

There are over 2,000 houseboats in Amsterdam  

Amsterdam’s canals are home to 2,500 houseboats, many of which have been afloat for centuries. Houseboats are either wooden or concrete, with the concrete ones being most desirable. If you own a wooden houseboat you are legally required to take it to a shipyard every three years for repairs and to be painted. The majority of the boats are residential, however, you can find hotel houseboats and even museum houseboats. 

Amsterdam is home to Dancing Houses

The Dancing Houses of Amsterdam are famous. Found on the edge of the Damrak canal these houses get their name from their crooked appearance. Originally built as both houses and offices for wealthy bankers, the soil these houses were built on was so swampy that they had to be built on stilts. This caused the houses to wobble and sink slightly, making them off-balance. The Dancing Houses are a regular tourist attraction and a highlight of Amsterdam. 

Amsterdam’s tap water is safe to drink 

Amsterdam’s tap water is the cleanest in the Netherlands. Above this, the Netherlands has the cleanest tap water in Europe. 

Amsterdam is home to famous museums

Not only is Amsterdam home to some of the most famous museums in the world, but it also has more museums per square meter than any other city. Famous figures, such as Anne Frank and Van Gough, have museums in Amsterdam, alongside the Rijksmuseum and the Amsterdam museum.

Image by emoro from Pixabay

Amsterdam’s floating flower market 

The Netherlands is well known for its flowers, specifically tulips. The iconic floating flower market of Amsterdam has been in business since 1862. It is now one of the most famous flower markets in the Netherlands. To this day, all the stalls of the market are located on boats as a remembrance to when flowers were delivered to the Netherlands by boat. 

Image by jimderda

Amsterdam’s tourists drastically outweigh its locals

Amsterdam is visited by roughly 14 million tourists per year. 4.5 million of these tourists travel from the Netherlands, with the rest travelling from around the globe. Amsterdam is home to only 821,000 residents, meaning that the tourists drastically outnumbers the locals. 

Another fun fact about Amsterdam is that Laundryheap operates from the city. If you are visiting Amsterdam and need your clothes laundered you can book your slot via the Laundryheap website or on the app.