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Dates of visit:
April 27, 2005 -
May 12, 2005

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Many windmills
 Fortresses
 Manor houses
 Tulip Gardens
 North Sea coast
 Queen's Day
 Canal festivals
 The Hague
 Historic Churches
 Small Country
 Very Crowded
 

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*** City of Amsterdam ***
Go to second page - North Holland, Groningen and Overijssel Regions
Go to third page - Gelderland, North Brabant and Zeeland Regions
Go to fourth page - South Holland Region
Go to fifth page - Keukenhof Gardens (South Holland Region)
        Map of Holland
        Travel route in Holland
        Portrait of Holland
        Introducing Holland
        Location of Amsterdam
        City of Amsterdam
        Site Gallery - City of Amsterdam
PORTRAIT OF HOLLAND

Kinderdijk WindmillFrom the Frisian Islands in the north to Zeeland in the south, the Netherlands is a place of contrasts, with fine sandy beaches, picturesque villages and vibrant towns with multilingual and outward-looking people. The mighty river Rhine bisects the country, bringing trade and prosperity from far and wide.

The landscape of what is now the Netherlands has changed considerably over the past 2,000 years. Since Roman times, the sea in areas such as Zeeland and the former Zuiderzee has swallowed up large tracts of land. Old maps show that during the Middle Ages almost half of today's provinces of North Holland and South Holland were under water. Since then, large parts of this land have been reclaimed. The constant battle with the sea reached its height with the Delta Works. This massive hydraulic engineering achievement was designed to protect the southwestern part of the country against flooding. The project was started after the disastrous floods of 1953, in which more than 1,800 people died, and has proved to be a huge success.

The Netherlands covers an area of 41,547 sq km (16,040 sq miles), about one-tenth the size of California. With some 16 million inhabitants, this means a population density of around 380 per sq km (1,000 per sq mile), making it the third most densely populated country in Europe after Monaco and Malta. However, this is not something that is readily noticeable to visitors outside the main cities, as the flat landscape with its sweeping vistas seems anything but crowded.

Dutch people are friendly and outgoing. They care about social issues and the environment and almost everyone speaks English, many quite fluently. They live in a country that is neat and tidy, where there is excellent public transport and where visitors find it easy to get around.

Introducing Holland

Muritshuis MuseumAlthough the Netherlands is this country's official name, most of the rest of the world call it Holland. However, Holland actually comprises only 2 of the 13 Dutch provinces. North and South Holland contain the country's three main cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag (The Hague), which together with the cities of Dordrecht, Utrecht, Leiden and Haarlem form a horseshoe-shaped conurbation known as the Randstad, literally, "rim city".

When people ask, "What is the capital of the Netherlands?", the smiling Dutch tend to reply: "Our capital is Amsterdam, and the government sits in The Hague." Amsterdam is the most cosmopolitan of these three cities, as well as the country's centre for cultural life.

Rotterdam, home to the Europoort, one of the world's largest ports, is the Netherlands' industrial centre. The Hague is the seat of government and quarters many prestigious institutions, including the International Court of Justice. With its neighboring seaside resort of Scheveningen, The Hague is where most of the foreign embassies and consulates are situated.

Holland can be roughly divided into the Protestant north and Catholic south, separated by the great rivers flowing into the North Sea: the Rhine, the Waal and the Maas (Meuse). The people in the north of the country tend to be more sober and matter-of-fact, whereas those of the south tend to be much more flamboyant in their lifestyles.

*** Amsterdam ***
Magna CenterThe Golden Age of Amsterdam ... was in the 17th century. The population soared; three great canals, bordered by splendid houses, were built in a triple ring round the city; and scores of painters and architects were at work. Fortunes were made and lost, and this early capitalism produced many paupers, who were cared for by charitable institutions - a radical idea for the time. In 1648, an uneasy peace was formalized with Catholic Spain, causing tension between Amsterdam's Calvinist burgomasters and the less-religious House of Orange, which was dominant elsewhere in the country.

Amsterdam's Best: Canals and Waterways

From the grace and elegance of the waterside mansions along the Grachtengordel (Canal Ring) to the rows of converted warehouses on Brouwersgracht and the charming houses on Reguliersgracht, the city's canals and waterways embody the very spirit of Amsterdam. They are spanned by many beautiful bridges, including the famous Magere Brug, a traditionally styled lift bridge.

HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 45-60 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Site Gallery - City of Amsterdam
 

General Views of the City
Damrak Street Oude Kerk Red Light District
Magna Center Weigh House Amstel River
Amsterdam specialty Lift bridge Canal boats
Canal Indonesian meals Begijnhof
Concert Hall Houseboat Leaning to the right
Storm shutters Leaning to the right Tuschinski Theater
City at night
City at night City at night City at night
Queen's Day Celebration
Queens Day Celebration Queens Day Celebration Queens Day Celebration
Flower Market
Flower Market Flower Market Flower Market
Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum Rijksmuseum Rijksmuseum

Text extracted from guide book "Holland" published by Eyewitness Travel Guides,
DK Publishing, New York, Copyright 2005, Web site ... www.dk.com
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