History of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, the greatest planned city of northern Europe, has always been a well-known name in world history and played a central role in the history of the Netherlands. In the 17th century Amsterdam was the centre of world economy, and nowadays the city is known for its tolerant character.
Amsterdam was founded as a fishing village when a handful of adventures came floating down the river the Amstel. The city received it’s city laws at around 1275. The first habitants of Amsterdam were farmers and fishermen from Waterland, an area close to Amsterdam.
The first habitants created a dam where the Amstel merges into the Ij. They found it a good location to build their fleet, business and home. The city developed around this dam, now known as “the Dam square”. That is also where the name of the city comes from. The first ‘Aemstelledammers’ (how they called Amsterdam back in the days) were fishermen and merchants. The name occurs for the first time in the toll concession of Floris V, Count of Holland. He began exacting toll money from the passing beer and herring traders of the roaring Eastern Sea Trade of the Baltics. It flourished as a trading center. The Aemstelledammers soon created a dam in the barrage of the estuary. That is how a seaport (Damrak) and a inner harborer (Rokin) arised.
14th and 15th century
They quickly also became expert boat builders and brewers; attracting more interest in the emerging town. Soon the first navy was build. During the 14th, but especially the 15th century, Amsterdam underwent a rapid development, which laid the foundation for the Golden Age. Only very few medieval buildings survive today. Some examples: the Old and New Churches and the Houten Huis (Wooden House) at the Begijnhof. Throughout the Middle Ages houses were generally built of wood, a vulnerable type of construction material. The famous Houten Huis is no exception to this rule. Consequently, most of them were destroyed because of big fires.
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