Interesting facts about Amsterdam and the Netherlands – that’s a topic for today! I don’t have a particular thematic, and I also don’t want to write about boring numbers. Facts are pretty random ’cause most of them we have learned spontaneously, or we were curious about something so that we researched a little about it.
For the first time, Amsterdam is mentioned in about 1275. So almost 750 years of history! Don’t you think that during such period the city acquired stories and facts that are worth to be told? 🙂
This time we’ve learned a bunch of useful information about both: Amsterdam and the Netherlands as well. And now for me this country and this city are not just “faceless” places with outstanding architecture, but also places with something essential behind.
Amsterdam and the Netherlands facts
You got used to thinking that the Netherlands is a tiny country, but it used to be utterly powerful, and it had incredible influence on the world. Dutch shipped out on their risk into unknown waters to explore the world. With a foundation of the East Indian Trading Company, the Dutch Golden Age has begun. Exactly during the Golden Age Amsterdam was heavily expanded with the Canal district.
- Why does “Amsterdam” mean? Well, there’re two versions (that are alike from my point of view). First, it refers to a dam on Amstel river, so it came up with “Amsterdam.” Second, it might originate from several words “aem”, “ster” and “dam,” which mean “people who have settled at the dike along the river.”
- “The Netherlands” also has an explanation of its name ;D Basically “the Netherlands” means “lower lands.” And the name is quite right: only approximately 50% of the Netherlands’ lands are exceeding one meter above sea level. (Especially good you can see the origin of the name “Netherlands” in German, where “nieder” means “low” and “land” is “terra.”)
- Do you sometimes call the Netherlands Holland? If so, you’re not fully correct, ’cause the Netherlands – is s name of the country, and Holland is central region IN the Netherlands.
- New York was established by the Dutch and was originally named “New Amsterdam.”
- Roughly about 30% of the territory of the Netherlands is below the sea level.
- The biggest airport of the Netherlands also has a legend behind its name. The first one tells the airport situates in the lands of a former lake. People say that waters of the lake were severe for ships and storms used to destroy vessels. So from old Dutch “Schiphol” translates as “Ships grave.” According to the second one, “Schiphol” refers to “scheepshaal.” Scheepshaal means a canal or a ditch through which ships would be towed from one lake to another. And, finally, the third version arises from “scip hol.” It indicates a low-lung area (a hole) where wood would be collected for building ships.
- On the flag of Amsterdam depicted three X. Why? Basically it’s not Xs, but Saint Andrew Crosses. According to the most popular legend, were meant to ward off fire, floods and the black plague.
- The oldest building in Amsterdam is Oude Kerk.
- Tulips are NOT originally Dutch. They came to the Netherlands from Turkey.
- 80% of tulips bulbs that are traded in the world are from the Netherlands.
- Houses in Amsterdam are narrow. Sometimes extremely narrow, so you even can’t use stairs to lift your furniture up! So what then??? Look up! EVERY house there has a hook! Besides, buildings were constructed in such way, that gambles were further out into the street to make it easier to haul everything in via the hook and window! So if you see a sofa is hanging over you – don’t be surprised! ;D
- But why are houses narrow then? People used to pay taxes not for the territory they’re taking, but for the width of facades!
- For buildings’ foundation in Amsterdam use poles. Since the ground is quite swampy, poles are the best option. Currently, poles are made of concrete, but it used to be wood.
- Did you notice that many houses in Amsterdam are crooked? That’s because for old buildings were used wooden poles and they couldn’t last forever. Apparently, foundations of buildings were renewed, so don’t worry 😉
- Even though the foundations were remade, it’s still not possible to build in elevators in old houses.
- To make their houses look taller, owners used to play with sizes of windows. In Canal District you can sometimes notice that windows of the ground floor are the biggest, and those in the attic are the smallest. It created an illusion of perspective 🙂 (Actually, you can see it in the picture above)
- According to graphics, on average Amsterdam has about 180 days when it rains or snows.
- Not since the beginning of time Amsterdam was a bike capital. In 50s-60s, on the contrary, the number or automobiles was growing utterly active. Due to this fact, the amount of car accidents, that involved pedestrians, was increasing steadily, and hit its peak in 1971. 3000 people died on the roads, 450 of them were children. It caused large-scale protests. Besides oil crises hit Europe, when oil-producing countries stopped exports. Owing to these two occasions, the government of the Netherlands has changed its course and started encouraging citizens to cycle. The result you can see today 😉
- In 2016 population of Amsterdam within the urban area was 1,351,587. Guess, how many people own bicycles and cars? About 800, 000 people have bikes and 263,000 have a car. A crazy correlation, isn’t it?
- Amsterdam is also known as “Venice of the North.” It has 165 canals and 1281 bridges.
- The Netherlands is actually also a kingdom and has its king! The Netherlands is only a part Kingdom of the Netherlands. To the Kingdom also belong Caribbean provinces Antilles and Aruba. Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is currently the King of the Netherlands.
- Although Amsterdam is capital, all political organizations are located in The Hague.
- The Netherlands is utterly tolerant! In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country in the world where gay marriage was legalized.
- Although soft drugs are legal in the Netherlands, but it wasn’t like that in the past. Legalization occurred only in 1972, and after an independent scientific committee on drugs (the Baan Commission) approved this idea.
- Amsterdam hosts 137 nationalities!
- Tap water in the Netherlands, and especially in Amsterdam, is safe to drink. People also write on the internet it’s the best tap water in Europe :))
- The Netherlands’s currency before euro was Dutch guilder. A symbol of the former Dutch money was ƒ.