History of Amsterdam


Amsterdam is full of history and amazing buildings that still can be seen!

Amsterdam History; 13th Century

The three small settlements around the River Amstel were governed by “de Heren van Amstel” (Lords of the Amstel). At one point these villages wanted to separate themselves as a unity from Utrecht, to which they belonged at that time. In order to win the people for him, the Count of Holland, Floris V, gave Amsterdam the privilege of toll in 1275. Because Amsterdam could now demand toll from passing ships, this city quickly became richer than others.

Amsterdam History; 14 Century

Around the Amstel River dikes were built and at the exact spot where the national monument is now located, a dam was built (hence the name Dam Square). Amsterdam officially received city rights and the first church was built, the core of what is now the Old Church (Oude Kerk). The Amsterdam economy ran on beer and herring in this time. At the end of the 14th century Amsterdam was further expanded, including the Zeedijk.

Amsterdam History; 15 Century

Portugal and Spain undertake journeys to America and India. Holland becomes involved in the trade of spices, which they pick up in Lisbon. After the annexation of Portugal by Spain, Holland is forced to sail to India itself. Funding for this came from merchants who had come to Amsterdam after the Spanish occupation of Antwerp. Among them were a lot of Portuguese Jews, who had moved to Antwerp earlier on. The expeditions were a huge success and everywhere in the Netherlands similar initiatives were set up. These finally united in 1602 in “de Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie – VOC” (the United East India Company), in which Amsterdam was the most powerful party. In 1621 “de West-Indische Compagnie – WIC” (the West India Company) was set up, which ultimately managed New Zealand, Curacao, Brazil and Suriname.

Amsterdam History; 16th Century

Amsterdam has expanded its good market position by importing products such as timber, grain, iron ore, furs and cod from countries bordering the Baltic Sea. During the 16th century, Amsterdam grew to be the largest city of Holland. Ships could sail into the city as far as the Dam (until the current Damrak was built), where it was a logical choice to buy and sell their products. Amsterdam turned into the centre of trade between Northern Europe and Southern Europe. The city’s borders at this time were the Singel at the west and the Kloveniersburgwal at the east. We currently have apartment rentals available on the Kloveniersburgwal.

Amsterdam History; 17th Century (Golden Century)

Amsterdam is largely expanded the building of the Jordaan and Canal Belt (Grachtengordel: Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht) – Most of our apartments are located in this historical area. This was the largest single urban expansion plan ever planned. Through increased prosperity also the demand for art grows. Some famous names at that time living in Amsterdam: the poets Bredero, Vondel and PC Hooft, the painters Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer and the philosophers Descartes and Bredero. One of our top locations, the Dutch Masters Residences, has nine Amsterdam luxury apartment rentals, all named after Dutch Masters.


Amsterdam History; 18th Century

Amsterdam loses its unique trading position. The layered population is unsatisfied. The ideas of democracy start to appeal to the wealthy middle class. In 1747, Prince William IV of Orange was put on the throne, in order to achieve these ideals. A generation later the French Revolution breaks out.

Amsterdam History; 19th Century

Amsterdam is part of the kingdom of Leopold Napoleon (brother of the Emperor). In 1815 William I of Orange is made king. Amsterdam continues to be the capital, but the government moves back to The Hague. In this period poverty and social unrest grow larger. The Industrial Revolution breaks out. In 1870, the economy of Amsterdam gets a new impulse by the construction of the Suez Canal and the emergence of German unity. Trading in the Dutch East Indies is liberalized. In the same year the first shipment of rough diamonds arrives from South Africa, which is the beginning of the diamond industry in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam History; 20th Century

After government intervention because of the poor living conditions of many citizens housing associations and garden villages arise in the early 20th century. The Amsterdamse School (Amsterdam School, an idealistic architecture direction) builds neighborhoods with public housing around the old city. In the same period the construction of Schiphol Airport began and a forest of 9 ha is constructed in the southwest side of Amsterdam, “het Amsterdamse Bos”. On May 10, 1940 Amsterdam is attacked by Germany, after 5 days the Dutch army capitulates. Queen Wilhelmina and her government flee to England. In the following years Amsterdam was hit a number of times by wrong-targeted bombing of the allies. On February 22, 1941, the first raids to gather the Jewish population were held at the Waterlooplein. The Amsterdam population stands up for her fellow residents by going on strike on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. This was violently ended by the German occupiers. Nevertheless systematic deportation took place from July 1942. The Jews were gathered in the Hollandsche Schouwburg, transported to Westerbork and from there to German concentration camps. Some Jews tried to avoid deportation by hiding, like Anne Frank, who wrote her world famous diary in “het Achterhuis” (the back part of the house). By the failure of the battle of Arnhem in September 1944 the northern part of the Netherlands is isolated. In de Hongerwinter of 1944-1945 there were many deaths. In order to obtain firewood the people of Amsterdam dismantled thousands of empty houses formlery occupied by Jews. On May 5 the German army capitulated. In the ’60s Amsterdam had emergenced into an international center for art and ideas. Baby boomers, born during the Reconstruction after the war, protest against the established order. Hippies and backpackers color Amsterdam’s Vondelpark.

Amsterdam present; 21th Century

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