Amsterdam is an old city with lots of history, and right in the middle of that history is Dam Square. This square is in the middle of the city and is always busy. It was built a long time ago, between 1204 and 1275, to stop the water in the Amstel river. People started using it as a way to get across the river, and soon it became a very important place. Today, there are many important things to see on the Dam, like the Royal Palace, the New Church, and the National Monument, which is where they remember people who died in wars. The Dam is a must-visit place when you come to Amsterdam, because there is so much to see and do.
History of Dam Square
The Dam derives its name from its original function as a dam in the Amstel river. They constructed the Dam between 1204 and 1275 to connect the settlements of Warmoesstraat and Nieuwendijk on opposite sides of the river. They built a lock into the dam that enabled ships to pass through and controlled the water flow. The harbor, called Damrak, underwent expansion as they periodically released water with great force towards the IJ and gradually deepened and widened it.Over time, the top of the dam also widened, eventually becoming large enough to form a square which served as the heart of the city and around which it continued to develop. The original Dam was called Middeldam while the western part that emerged after 1390 was called Plaetse until the 16th century.
By the 14th century, the Dam had become not only the geographical but also the administrative center of the city. Until a fire destroyed it in 1652, the Old City Hall of Amsterdam was located on the west side of Plaetse, between Nieuwendijk and Kalverstraat.It was then replaced by the new City Hall (Palace on the Dam). From 1408, the construction of the New Church began just north of the old City Hall. Today, this building dominates the northwest side of the Dam.
Dam Square also functioned as a market square, with the establishment of a weigh house (Waag) for goods in 1341, which was replaced by a new one in 1565. In 1808, Louis Napoleon, who was residing in the Palace on the Dam, ordered the demolition of the Waag as he found that the building obstructed his view.
Architecture at the Dam Square
The architecture on Dam Square in Amsterdam is a blend of historic and modern styles. The Royal Palace is the most prominent building and serves as an example of Dutch classicism, while the Nieuwe Kerk showcases Gothic and Renaissance styles. The square has other buildings like the modernist Department Store of De Bijenkorf with a striking glass facade, and the neoclassical Anantara Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, which has been renovated in a contemporary style.Together. These buildings create a unique and diverse architectural landscape on Dam Square.
The National Monument
Discover the National Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam, a significant memorial site for victims of World War II and other wars. This monument was designed by Dutch architect J.J.P. Oud and unveiled in 1956. It consists of a 22-meter-high obelisk surrounded by four sculptures that symbolize the various aspects of war and peace: freedom, peace, solidarity, and resistance. The monument is located in a large square that is often used for significant events and ceremonies, such as the annual National Remembrance Day on May 4th. The National Monument on Dam Square is an essential symbol of remembrance and respect for those who have given their lives for freedom and peace.
What activities are available near Dam Square?
There are various activities to do on and around the Dam in Amsterdam. Visitors can explore the Royal Palace on Dam Square, which was originally the city hall of Amsterdam.
Visitors can also visit the Nieuwe Kerk, which regularly organizes exhibitions and concerts. The National Monument on the Dam is an important memorial site for the victims of World War II and other wars.
In addition, the Dam is a popular spot for street artists, musicians, and performers. Dam Square regularly hosts various events, including the annual Christmas market and King’s Day celebration. It is also a central point from which visitors can explore the rest of the city.
Shops Around Dam Square
There are many well-known shops near Dam Square in Amsterdam. De Bijenkorf is the largest luxury department store chain in the Netherlands. H&M is a Swedish fashion chain, while Primark is a popular clothing store with affordable prices.
Other famous shopping streets near Dam Square include Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk, where you can find a wide range of shops, ranging from high-end designer brands to popular fast-fashion retailers.
Restaurants near Dam Square
There are many great restaurants near Dam Square in Amsterdam. Here are some suggestions:
- Café de Jaren: A popular café with a large terrace on the Amstel river. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as coffee and pastries. (no reservation)
- Burgerlijk: A cozy burger restaurant near the Dam. It serves artisanal burgers and fries, as well as beer and milkshakes.
- De Belhamel: A romantic restaurant with a view of the canals. It serves seasonal dishes and has an extensive wine list.
- Van Kerkwijk: A cozy and informal restaurant in a side street of the Dam. It serves international dishes and has a good selection of wines.
- The Seafood Bar: A seafood restaurant near the Dam, specializing in fresh fish and seafood. It also has an oyster bar and an extensive wine list.
- Daalder: A trendy Michelin-starred restaurant in the Jordaan neighborhood, within walking distance of the Dam. It serves modern Dutch cuisine with an international twist.
There are many more great places to eat near the Dam, depending on your preference and budget.