Dam and De Wallen have a high violent crime rate and a high property crime rate for Amsterdam.
Dam Square is often referred to as the place where Amsterdam started. There’s some truth in that story as the ‘dam’ in Amsterdam refers to this spot. But settlements on both sides of the river Amstel, the ‘Amster’ in Amsterdam, existed long before the dam was built. Today, it’s a large, open square with side streets leading into different parts of town. The Royal Palace on the west end of the square gives it a bit of charm, but other than that it has very little appeal.
East of Dam Square, however, is a part of town that is one of the main tourist draws: the Red Light District, "de Walletjes" in Dutch. There might be an abundance of world class museums and Unesco listed canals here, but a lot of people still come to Amsterdam because of its liberal attitude towards soft drugs and prostitution, and this is where they come as soon as they set foot in town.
Some never see anything else in Amsterdam besides this part, which is a pity as it does not reflect the city in the best way. However, those making a bit of an effort will like the old Amsterdam charm that is visible between the glow of the red lights and the intoxicating smoke of cannabis. Some of Amsterdam’s oldest buildings can be found here for instance. And the canals on this end of Dam Square are absolutely lovely.
And in all fairness, prostitution is as much part of Amsterdam’s history as is Rembrandt. A visit won’t be complete without a stroll along the canals and narrow alleys where scantily dressed ladies try to lure in customers. Prostitution is such an everyday part of life here that there is a very active workers union for sex-workers. But despite their many successful efforts to unionize and gain rights, human trafficking is still an issue here. The city council has plans to close as many as half of the red light windows. This, however, is met with resistance as many think this might push women out onto the streets.
Living here, as you can imagine, requires a certain tolerance. Not only to sex and drugs, but also to large groups of visitors under the influence of booze, drugs, or both. And as this part of town never sleeps, nor will you unless you wear earplugs or have a bedroom that doesn't face the street or canal. But there are many that would not want to live anywhere else. And rumor has it that with that many women working in this area round the clock, female residents are safer here than in any other part of town.
This neoclassical palace was built and completed as a city hall in 1665. In 1806, King Louis I, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, moved in, making it the Royal Palace. Aside from a few years as home of the French governor, it has been called the Royal Palace ever since. Reigning monarchs no longer live here, but it is used for official functions and entertaining guests at state visits. It’s also open to visitors and hosts exhibitions with a variety of themes.
Tucked away in a narrow alley off Dam Square is this amazing liquor distillery and tavern. It was started by Wynand Fockink in 1679 and still serves and sells gins and jenevers (Dutch gin) traditionally crafted in-house. Lovers of jenever flock from all over the world to sample and buy here, or simply enjoy a drink with friends or alone.
This upscale department store opened its doors here in 1915. The impressive building houses five floors of fashion, home decor, gifts, cosmetics and more from high-end brands and the Bijenkorf private label. The restaurant on the fifth floor boasts amazing views of Dam square and other parts of Amsterdam.
Those traveling business class with KLM airlines are handed a small, Delft Blue house filled with Bols jenever. An Amsterdam based architecture firm was inspired by this, and designed 6 life-size versions for a lot in this small alley in the Red Light District.
Photo Credits: Thanks to @nathanmassey_, @jorden90, @ugurcanpeker, @omeradam10, @talsiboni, @im.fantasia, @volkanarac, @naomi_yaakov, @rokinamsterdam, @mina_s__, @alittletropicalfitgirl, @illuzzip, @anna_maasdam, @nelma_lankhaar, @laoyogi, @vverville, @kseniavera, @thatgirlwt, @susankroonenberg, @tomdp for your great photos of this neighborhood!