12 funny facts about Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a very interesting and original city. Between the coffeeshops, the Red Light District, the cheese shops and the crazy bikers, there is a lot to see ! Here’s some funny and interesting facts about Amsterdam you might wanna know before you go!
x Amsterdam was first founded as a fishing village in the 12th century. The city takes its name from the Amstel River and a dam, built in 1220 to avoid the floods from the sea, as Amsterdam is actually below sea-level!
x The famous XXX sign of Amsterdam stands for St. Andrew, a fisherman tortured on a cross shaped like a X during the 1st Century. It became the symbol of Amsterdam around 1505, when Amsterdam was still a fisherman town.
x Amsterdam is home to 165 canals that are over 100 kilometres long, 1281 bridges (that’s more than Venice !), 2500 houseboats, over 300 coffeeshops, more than 1 million bikes, 400 kilometres of cycle paths and around 821.000 inhabitants.
x The most famous bridge is called the Magere Brug (or Skinny Bridge). The bridge opens every 20 minutes or so to let the boats go through. You can find it on the Amstel River, close to Prinsengracht, east of Amsterdam. De Torensluis bridge is the oldest bridge in the city, it was built in 1648 and it’s located on the Singel, close to Dam Square.
x Amsterdam is built on poles. Around eleven million poles. Eleven millions!! Amsterdam Centraal Station alone stands on 9000 poles! As a comparison, a normal house only needs 10. The entire city is actually built on 90 tiny islands, linked together by the poles.
x The Red-Light District is mostly known for its red lights on the windows, signalling the available sex workers. However, you can also see blue lights. They are actually black lights. Most people think the blue lights indicate that there is a transgender sex worker in there, but it’s actually not completely true. They are just mostly used by transgender workers, but not always. Every window has both red and blue lights and workers can use whichever they want. The black light is used to contrast the very red lightning all around, without them everyone would just look completely red. The confusion and misinformation about the lights is actually a bit harmful for the workers, as it confuses potential clients.
x The Bloemenmarkt, the most famous floating flower market of the Netherlands, opened in 1862 and has been a staple in the city ever since. The stalls are all standing on boats as a reminder of old times when the flowers were delivered to the city by boat every day.
x Amsterdam loves cats. It’s a fact. You can find heaps of places dedicated to them across the city. There is a cat boat, the Poezenboot. It’s an animal shelter where they have more than 50 cats. There is also a cat cafe, called the Kattencafe Kopjes, a cat museum, the Kattenkabinet, and a few cat pubs such as Cafe de Prins or Cafe Bax. Lots to see for cats lovers! Check Amsterdam’s website for more infos!
x Around 25.000 bikes disappear in the canals each year. The special boat from the city council picks up about 8000 to 10000 bikes every year, but it’s not enough, and around 100.000 bikes are stolen every year. Over 63% of Amsterdam’s inhabitants use their bikes on a daily basis.
x Amsterdam is the city with the highest concentration of museums per square meter in the world. You can find 75 museums spread all over the city. Even the airport has one ! It’s the only airport in the world with a museum inside. It’s located behind the passport control area and guess what, it’s free!
x Amsterdam is the first capital city in the world that allowed gay marriage in 2001. Over 15000 gay and lesbian couples got married within the next ten years! Amsterdam has a strong reputation of tolerance and respect for the rights of minorities, and is definitely one of the most gay-friendly cities you can find as of today! You’ll notice all the rainbows flags hanging around.
x You can find the world’s first specialised condom shop in Amsterdam. The Condomerie, located on Warmoesstraat in the Red Light District. It opened in 1987 and probably has more different condoms than you’ve ever seen!
Did you enjoy these facts about Amsterdam ? Let me know in the comments, I might have more in stock if you want to know more 😉
In the meantime click here to know more about the Netherlands and here if you want to see more photos of Amsterdam!