When people think of the Netherlands they maybe think windmills. Some others perhaps think of tulips or the little boy who put his finger in the dam. The country is a mixture of enterprise and imagination, great artistry and sporting talent. The sea has always been a challenge to the Dutch. They sailed the seas in search of trade, exploration and colonisation. Such a low lying country however has had a problem closer to home and that has been to stop the sea’s invasion.
Sea defences stretch the length of the country and have largely been very effective otherwise there would be no City of Amsterdam where history is not only in its museums but also everywhere you look. If you want to get your bearings then there will be buses with a hop on and off facility that will help you.
When it comes to Amsterdam Sightseeing people are perhaps more likely to take to the canals which date back to the 17th century and have allowed both the commercial activities of the city to develop and also helped its defences. You can tour the canals to this day and see the host of buildings that relate to the country’s trading era with the most opulent of buildings the former homes of those that made their wealth from trade. The homes may not be large but there elegant facades identify them as the homes of traders in the past and Amsterdam’s wealthy today.
The Night Watch
There are plenty of things to see and do on dry land and the Rijksmuseum is a spectacular place for anyone interested in art. Perhaps the most famous painting in the whole museum is one of Rembrandt’s 17th century masterpieces, The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch preparing to march out, more commonly known as The Night Watch. There are many paintings from the Dutch Masters and if you want to see more then there is always the Van Gogh Museum.
The National Maritime Museum will let you see more of the Dutch as one of the world’s greatest sea powers. It is extremely educational and a great place to take children if you are travelling as a family.
Anne Frank’s home is certainly something to go on the list of places to visit. Her diary written during World War II is there as part of the permanent exhibition. You will find it difficult to believe that hidden annex within the house was home to two families hiding from the Nazis during the War.
Amsterdam by night of course is famous. The Red Light District is a tourist attraction and perfectly safe. If you want to take an organised walking tour then that will be available from a reputable operator.
If you really need to see windmills there are tours that will take you out of the city to see the countryside. The Netherlands is a small country with a high density of population but that does not mean there are not many open spaces and windmills to see if you want to get away from the city for a day.
Image attributed to Freedigitalphotos.net Keerati