According to abbreviationfinder, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands (seat of government is The Hague), in the province of North Holland, on the Amstel and (connected by two underwater tunnels) on the south and north banks of the IJ, (2018) 855 900 residents (with the outlying municipalities over 1.35 Million residents).
Amsterdam is the cultural center of the Netherlands. Among the numerous educational institutions, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (in the Trippenhuis), the University of Amsterdam, the Free University, the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Tropical Institute, founded in 1910, are in the foreground. Amsterdam is the future headquarters (from 2019) of the European Medicines Agency. Amsterdam enjoys a worldwide reputation as a city of art and museums: Rijksmuseum (especially Dutch painting; reopened in 2013 after ten years of restoration and modernization), Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum (modern painting), Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Collectie Six, Anne Frank Huis, Bible Museum, KIT Tropical Museum, Maritime Museum and more than 60 other museums, Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, zoological garden (»Artis«).
Amsterdam is an important trading city. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange (founded in 1611) is one of the most important in the world. The sea and inland port is with (2016) 96.0 million tons of cargo handled to Rotterdam (including Europoort) the second largest in the country and fifth in Europe; it is connected to the sea by the North Sea Canal and to the hinterland by the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. Air traffic is handled via the major international airport Schiphol; it is the third largest in Europe. More important than the import and processing of tropical raw materials (tobacco, coffee, cocoa, cinchona, wood, rice, rubber, spices) and bulk goods (petroleum, grain, coal) are today communication technology and printing (Amsterdam is the center of book and newspaper publishers in the Netherlands), Ship and vehicle construction, mechanical engineering and the metal goods, paper, food, electronic, chemical and clothing industries. In addition to Antwerp (Belgium), Amsterdam is the headquarters of the diamond cutting shop. With around 18 million Tourism plays an important role in Amsterdam for domestic and foreign visitors. 14 tram and 5 metro lines are used for inner-city traffic.
The oldest traces of settlement (late 12th century) can be found on the west bank of the Amstel in the area of today’s Nieuwendijk. The foundations of a fortification from the late 13th century were uncovered there in 1994–99; possibly remains of the literary castle of the Counts of Holland (so-called »Kasteel van Amstel«). From the late medieval walling are i.a. the towers »Schreierstoren« (end of the 15th century), »Munttoren« (1490, hood 1618) and »Sint Anthonispoort« (1488, since 1617 Libra) have been preserved. The city’s fortifications are a UNESCO World Heritage Site (fortified belt of Amsterdam). From 1586 the city was expanded considerably through the creation of the canal belt in several campaigns until 1665; the district and canal system around the Singelgracht has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. The center of the old town is the “Dam”, formerly connected to the IJ by the Amstel and the most important transhipment point for goods.
On the “Dam” stands the monumental town hall (today the Royal Palace), begun in 1648 according to a design by J. van Campen, a major work of Dutch classicism, which shows the influences of the Italian Renaissance and French palace construction of the 17th century, with rich sculptural decorations by A. Quellinus the Elder. Adjacent to the palace is the Nieuwe Kerk, a late Gothic basilica (begun at the end of the 14th century, restored after a fire in 1645); in the choir is an important marble tomb of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter (* 1607, † 1676) by R. Verhulst (1681).
The oldest church in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (consecrated in 1306), originally a basilica, converted into a hall church in the 14th century; Parts of the old furnishings have been preserved. In the beguinage founded in 1346 (besides Breda the only preserved one in the Netherlands) there is a wooden gabled house from the 15th century; the rest of the building dates from the 16th to 18th centuries. Near the Oude Kerk there is a so-called “Hiding Church” (1663) in a residential building (today the Amstelkring Museum), in which Catholics held non-public but tolerated services after the Reformation. The first church in Amsterdam built after the Reformation is the Zuiderkerk (1603–11) by H. de Keyser, an example of the type of preacher church. The Westerkerk (1620–31), the largest Renaissance church in the Netherlands, with the tallest tower in the city (so-called »Langer Jan«, 85 m high) is also very similar in plan from de Keyser and the Zuiderkerk. The Portuguese Synagogue (1671–75) by Elias Bouman with its original furnishings stands out among the synagogues.
The most closed is the historical development with numerous town houses on the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. Out of the abundance of valuable secular buildings from the late Renaissance to classicism, the »Burgerweeshuis« (16th century; today Amsterdams Historisch Museum), the »Huis met de Hoofden« (1622, by de Keyser), the »Cromhouthuizen« (1660) are particularly noteworthy –62, by P. Vingboons), the “Trippenhuis” (1662, by Justus Vingboons), the “Huize van Brienen” (1728, by Frans Blancard) and the “Felix Meritis” (1787, by Jacob Otten-Husly).
It was only after the middle of the 19th century that the city expanded significantly beyond the borders of the canal belt; it emerged, inter alia. in the neo-renaissance style the Rijksmuseum (1876–85) and the “Centraal Station” (1882–89), both by P. J. H. Cuypers.
Of international importance for the architecture of the 20th century are the stock exchange (1897–1903; today cultural center) by H. P. Berlage and the residential areas of the »Amsterdam School«, among others. “De Dageraad” (1919–22) and “Het Schip” (1921) by M. de Klerk. The controversial “Stopera” building complex (multi-purpose stage and town hall; 1978–87) by architects W. Holzbauer and C. Dam is located on Waterlooplein. Architecturally and in terms of urban development, the development of the former port area with residential buildings such as “Piraeus” (1994, by H. Kollhoff), “The Whale” (2000, by Erick van Egeraat and Frits van Dongen) is significant) and »Silodam« (2002, MVRDV office) as well as the innovative terraced house development on the Scheepstimmermanstraat (1999, master plan by Adriaan Geuze). Also noteworthy are the “Amsterdam Arena” stadium (1996, by Rob Schuurman), the NEMO (New Metropolis Science Center; 1997, by R. Piano), the extension of the Van Gogh Museum (1999, by K. Kurokawa), the ING Bank office building (2000, by Meyer & Van Schoten), the Muziekgebouw (2005, by 3XNielsen) and the conservatory (2008, by Frits van Dongen).
At the beginning of the 13th century still a fishing village on the embankment between Amstel and IJ, Amsterdam was granted city rights around 1300 and passed to the Counts of Holland in 1317. In 1367 it joined the Cologne Confederation (Hanseatic League). It developed into an important trading city through trade and freight traffic with Hamburg, the places on the Baltic Sea coast and with the trading centers of Flanders. The relatively calm development was interrupted in the 16th century by the Reformation movement and the Dutch struggle for freedom, which Amsterdam did not join until 1578. After the blocking of the Scheldt and the conquest of Antwerp (1585) by the Spaniards, Amsterdam succeeded him as a trading metropolis. Most of the Brabant merchants now settled in Amsterdam. Before that (1576), Portuguese Jews, expelled from Antwerp, had brought the diamond cutting shop to Amsterdam. In the 17th century, with the boom of Dutch naval power and the associated flourishing of Dutch colonial trade, the city developed into the first trading city in Northern Europe. During this time it expanded to the old fortress belt on the Singelgracht. In the 18th century, Amsterdam largely lost its importance as a trading post and trading center, but the city remained one of the most important trading centers in Europe. The occupation by French troops (1795) and the annexation by France destroyed Amsterdam’s trade and prosperity. 1806-10 Amsterdam was the capital of the Kingdom of Holland Louis Napoléon; In 1813 it became the capital of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands and retained this function even after Belgium broke up. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the city took off again with the opening of new inland waterways.
The occupation by German troops (May 15, 1940) and the Second World War survived Amsterdam without major damage to buildings; the industrial dismantling and the deportation of residents, especially Jewish, hit the city much harder. In the post-war period, economic development was based primarily on trade and vehicle construction. From the 1970s onwards, Amsterdam gained a reputation as an international, liberal and multicultural center.