The history of the city dates back to 1275. It was then that a dam was built in the river Amstel, the present-day Dam square. During the 17th century, the Golden Age of Amsterdam, the Dutch began a period of overseas expansion and their sailing ships were trading all over the Far East. At the beginning of this century it was decided to built the now famous canals: Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. Here we can see a lovely variety of gables of the merchant's houses, coach-houses and warehouses.
At the Dam square we find the Royal Palace that was built in 1648 by Jacob van Campen as the new Town Hall. In 1808 during the reign of Louis Bonaparte it became the Royal Palace. Next to the Palace stands the New Church which is now used for temporary exhibitions. The National Monument, built after the Second World War, symbolises the suffering during the war and has become a popular meeting place.
Not far from the Dam square is the Red Light District, where some beautiful monuments can be found like the Old Church, which is the oldest building in Amsterdam, the interesting museum of Our Lord in the Attic, where you can visit a secret chapel fitted out in the attics of three houses and see some nice examples of rich canal houses. From here you can get to the Nieuwmarkt, where the imposing fortified gateway (1488), flanked by towers and turrets was converted into a weigh-house in 1617. The top floor served as an anatomy theatre where surgeons offered public dissections, which can be seen on one of Rembrandt´s famous paintings: the Anatomic Lesson of Dr. Deighman.
And of course you can visit the famous Rijksmuseum (with many works of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals) or the Van Gogh Museum (with the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings) or one of the many other museums.