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Amsterdam comes from the name Amstel Damme -- the dam on the river Amstel. The city was founded in the 13th century and gained influence through the end of the 17th century. Around 1700, Amsterdam was among the most affluent cities in Europe due to its power as a center of trade. Throughout the city's history, a series of canals were dug. The canals served a dual purpose. First, they provided easy access for cargo vessels to warehouses all over town, and second they served as a means to channel excess water away. Like much of the Netherlands, much of Amsterdam is at or below sea level, so flooding was a problem.

The flag of the Netherlands is often seen throughout the country. In April, the additional orange banner above the flag is added in honor of the birthday of Queen Beatrix of the House of Orange. You can see that this particular church was built in 1622.

A very common view throughout Amsterdam

The fairly ornate central railway station of Amsterdam

Bridges over a canal

Before the advent of building numbers, businesses would identify themselves using tiles like this one. Like the "XXX" symbol for Amsterdam, it was important that these signs be readily identifyable to the illiterate.

If you can provide the English translation of the Dutch "De cloyende Oven", please email me. However, I speculate based on the English word "cloy" (to fill up or clog), which comes from Old English, that this means "The full oven." However, to me the sign looks like it should be for a crematorium.

Atlas decorates the roof of a building.

The Rijksmuseum (meaning State Museum) houses a number of famous works of art.