Amsterdam, probably the most liberal city in the world, is also known by its infamous nickname – Europe’s Sin Capital. The city has embraced with open arms, some of the most prevalent societal taboos – Drugs & Red light areas. Yet, only a few know of the whimsical rhythm that beats deep inside this city. A place where the old-world charms court the modern age glamour, this city is beyond what it claims to be at first glance.
Amsterdam on two wheels
Today, the city follows the motto “Bikes are right” and two wheelers get priority over any other vehicle.
Believe it or not, Amsterdam has more cycles than people. There are approximately 8 lakh people within the Amsterdam territory owning 10 lakh bicycles. Incidently, the cycle revolution began not very long back. Post-1970 the number of road accidents death increased drastically. To add to it, during the Middle East oil crisis of 1973 oil-producing countries stopped exports to the US and Western Europe which affected Netherlands too. This was sign enough for the government to invest heavily in cycle-friendly infrastructure. Today, the city follows the motto “Bikes are right” and two wheelers get priority over any other vehicle. In fact, 70% of the trips made in Amsterdam is by bicycle. As of 2015, over 500 km of the road is dedicated for bicycles in Amsterdam.
The Museum City
Amsterdam has become home to some of the wackiest museums in the world right from the Torture Museum (Documenting history of human cruelty) to the Tattoo Museum (History of Skin art)
The Dutch people really take it seriously. Amsterdam got its first museum, the Rijksmuseum, in the 19th Century. Then on, Amsterdam went on to enjoy some of the world’s most renowned museums including the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and Stedelijk Museum. Today, it has become home to some of the wackiest museums in the world right from the Torture Museum (Documenting history of human cruelty) to the Tattoo Museum (History of Skin art) and even a Museum of Hash, Marihuana and Hemp! As of 2015, there are 75 Museums in Amsterdam making it the city with highest museum density in the world.
Bridging the Canals
“We build too many walls and not enough bridges” – Issac Newton
If you were to cross two bridges each day, it will probably take you a little over 2 years to have walked on every bridge that Amsterdam has. The 100 kilometers of canals stretched across Amsterdam holds over 1500 bridges. Some of the most creative bridges include the Nescio Bridge (Longest in the country of Netherlands, this super slim modern bridge allows only cycles and pedestrians) and the Python Bridge (winner of the International Footbridge Award, this one is the most unusual bridge in Amsterdam with its red snake-like shape). The canals also hold around 2500 houseboats, most of which are occupied by the residents. On your visit to Amsterdam, you might want to check out the houseboat museum, another one of the quirky museums in Amsterdam.
Why Amsterdam is the best city in the world
Over the years, modern Dutch have come to accept that controlling prostitution and the use of drugs by legalizing is a better idea instead of pretending that it won’t happen if pronounced illegal.
To speak of unconventional Amsterdam without mentioning their Gedoog culture would be quite unjust. Gedoog which literally means tolerance is a culture that the dutch people have been following since centuries. Interestingly, one could directly trace it back to the ‘traders community’ history of the Dutch. Traditionally a city of immigrants, Amsterdam has always valued trade over religion or ideology. Over the years, modern Dutch have come to accept that controlling prostitution and the use of drugs by legalizing is a better idea instead of pretending that it won’t happen if pronounced illegal. Owing to this, they even have strict rules related to their tolerant policies. Today, their policies on euthanasia, recreational drugs, same-sex marriage, and prostitution are among the most liberal ones in the world attracting a major tourist crowd. In fact, the only thing the Dutch probably won’t tolerate is intolerance.
Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe even today. Surely, it has made to your travel bucket list too. Tell us what you loved the most about Amsterdam in the comment box right below!