red light district
This former 19th-century working-class area just south of city center has become the Quartier Latin of Amsterdam. Mainly due to the rising costs of city center accommodation, the Pijp area saw a huge influx of college students during the seventies. Lots of them never left, so today the area is populated by a mix of hip young professionals and students. The small quaint streets and squares are crawling with little shops and restaurants, and of course the Pijp hosts the famous Albert Cuyp day market. If you want to mingle with the locals this is the place to go.
Red Light District
This area (roughly the lower right corner of map C1) is famous for its window prostitution, which is legal in Holland. The windows are illuminated by red lights, hence the name. Though you might suspect otherwise this section of town isn't really that seedy, and it's a common sight to see a busload of tourists take an organized tour of the district. Besides the windows the area sports various 'erotic' bars and theaters, a few of which are described here.
You can also go on a short virtual tour of the Red Light District.
The Reguliersdwarsstraat is definitely the gay hub of Amsterdam, as far as nightlife is concerned. The street is an eclectic mix of up market gay bars, restaurants serving expensive French cuisine and assorted night clubs catering to a slightly older crowd of media buffs, businessmen and local celebrities. During hot summer nights and on festive occasions like Queensday this street really comes alive.
This is the major 'entertainment' area for rowdy Amsterdammers and out-of-towners. Bars chock-a-block with people singing along to Dutch folk songs at the top of their voices, and a few large disco's with heavy security at the door. Because all bars and disco's close at about the same time, sometimes things tend to get out of hand a bit. The square is surrounded by major gay spots and just off the square is the Halvemaansteeg, a small street packed with gay bars. No problems here, so maybe Amsterdam really is a tolerant city.
At first sight the Royal Palace on Dam square doesn't seem very royal, and doesn't even look like a palace at all. All very understandable because Jacob van Campen designed this building as a city hall, which it was until 1808, when Napoleon's brother Louis Bonaparte ruled Holland for 5 years. He thought the building fit for a king, and ever since this has been the official palace for the reigning queen or king of the Netherlands.
Except for official receptions it is not used much. In summer you can take a guided tour of the palace, the highlights of its interior being the Empire furniture Bonaparte left behind, and paintings by Rembrandt's pupils Govert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol.
[See also: history]
The largest park of the city, close to the Leidseplein and the big museums and by far the most popular with visitors and locals alike, especially during summer and on sunny winterdays. The park is always alive with skaters, joggers and all sorts of street performers. In the summer the Vondelpark open air theater stages regular performances. There are several bars in the park, all of course with their own outside terrace, most of which also offer good food at reasonable prices. All in all a very pleasant place to spend a lazy sunny afternoon.
Waterlooplein square in the center of the former Jewish neighborhood hosts Amsterdam's largest flea-market. In the old days the merchants on this square used to sell everything from bric-a-brac to genuine antiques, genuine junk, goods of dubious origin and second-hand clothes.
Nowadays the merchandise has become more geared towards visiting tourists with lots of second-hand apparel and smoking paraphernalia, but for cheap clothes it's still hard to beat.
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