The city’s olive-green canals and stately gabled mansions are lovely, but the flavor of the city appeals most — its residents are a dynamic and imaginative bunch that simply light up the town.
Amsterdam thrived as a trading metropolis in the 17th century, with its merchant fleet shipping products to every corner of the globe. This was Amsterdam’s Golden Age, the time of Rembrandt and Frans Hals, and it was at this time, that the city’s fine houses were built, which are still visible today. The splendor, however, did not continue, and, as unexpected as it may appear today, Amsterdam in the 1950s was a staid and provincial city with a shaky future.
All of that altered in the 1960s. Suddenly, Amsterdam acquired a new counter-cultural voice, transforming itself into a hub of the hippy movement and all that involved – complete with sit-ins and love-ins galore. The hippies weren’t without a sense of humor, too, as their well-organized ‘happenings’ centered on entertaining games that highlighted specific urban issues such as pollution and a lack of social housing.
Young Amsterdammers were energized, and the hippy movement instilled in the city an adventurous spirit that has endured to this day: it’s reflected in a slew of cultural events like Pride and King’s Day, a slew of creative art and photography galleries, and a penchant for design, ranging from designer toothbrushes to a specialty condom shop that manages to stretch everyone’s imagination.
The contemporary art scene in Amsterdam is vibrant
The contemporary art scene in Amsterdam is exciting — and incredibly worldwide. The city is home to the Stedelijk Museum, which may appear to be a massive bathtub from the outside, but its temporary shows are cutting-edge and well-received. Huis Marseille and Foam, a hipster hangout popular with the young creatives who have impacted the city, are two of Amsterdam’s finest photography museums. These same creatives also support a slew of swanky, private art galleries; however, if you want to buy, expect to pay a premium.