Postcrossing ID: NL-16707
Date Sent: 24 July 2006
Date Received: 7 August 2006
Days Travelled: 14
Distance Travelled: 9,553 km
My third Postcrossing postcard arrived from one of my favorite cities in all of Europe. Like most communities on the continent, Amsterdam is fairly old, originating when locals living near the river Amstel built a bridge and a dam following floods in 1170 and 1173. The village’s name of “Aemstelredamme” had developed into “Amsterdam” by 1327. By the seventeenth century, it was the wealthiest city in the world due to its innovative developments as a major trading port, leading financial center and diamond market. In 1602 the Amsterdam offices of the Dutch East India Company became the world’s first stock exchange.
The city’s importance declined due to wars with England and France but had rebounded by the end of the 19th century but with bleak periods during World War I when food shortages led to riots (the “Potato Rebellion”) and the Nazi occupation during World War II during which some 60,000 of Amsterdam’s residents were deported to concentration camps. Today, it’s one of the leading financial centers of Europe and its status as the cultural capital of the Netherlands makes it a very popular tourist destination.
The postcard depicts a lovely black and white night view of buildings near or on Damrak in de Wallen (the quays), the oldest part of Amsterdam. It’s just east of the famous red-light district which, interestingly enough, is the most popular tourist destination of Amsterdam. The brick houses were built starting in the sixteenth century, replacing most of the earlier wooden houses only two of which remain (the oldest remaining, het Houten Huys, was constructed around 1425). This Dutch Renaissance architectural style is very recognizable with its stepped gable façades having been built according to the principles of the architect Hendrick de Keyser. In the foreground of the photo is a bridge over one of Amsterdam’s famous canals. As these are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the card could (almost) be considered a World Heritage Site postcard.