Dam Square is considered to be the heart of Amsterdam. The town square of Amsterdam estimates 100 by 200 metres. It owes its name from the dam it was build upon. The dam dates back from 1275, at a time when Amsterdam was still at sea and was a harbour city. Boats would be able to moor near Dam Square and there used to be a fish market. Later it became the official city centre and city hall was build there. The original city hall burned down in 1652 after which it was replaced by the building known today as The Royal Palace. It is surrounded by De Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) from 1408, the Bijenkorf shopping mall, Madame Tussauds, Hotel Krasnapolsky and several other shops and restaurants. Opposite to the to the Royal Palace you’ll find the National Monument. Dame Square connects several streets
- De Damrak; the mainroad to the north between Dam Square and Amsterdam Central station;
- The shopping streets De Nieuwendijk to North and Kalverstraat to the South;
- Rokin to the South towards Rembrandt Square;
- Damstraat to East towards Red Light District;
- Paleisstraat and Mozes en Aäronstraat towards Magna Plaza and Wester Church.
The National Monument that you see nowadays on Dam Square was build in 1956. It was build to commemorate the casualties during the Second World war and ever since. The monument was integrated with the half round wall that was build just after the war in 1947. The wall contains urns filled with soil from places where victims of the war were executed or buried.
In the Netherlands Remembrance Day is held annually on the 4th of May. During the ceremonies that take place on Dam Square around the National Monument, the Royal Family, ministers and representatives of the military lay down garlands. There are two minutes of silence for the loss of all civilian and military lives during and since the Second world war.
Royal Palace on Dam Square
The Royal Palace was build initially as City Hal between 1648 and 1655. In 1804 it became the Royal Palace for Napoleon. At that time the name of Dam Square was changed to Napoleon Square. William I, first king of The Netherlands gave back the Royal Palace to the city council in 1813, but they rather wanted the Dutch Royal family to live there. After the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 the Royal family moved in.
Between 2005 and June 2009 the Royal Palace has undergone a major restauration. Nowadays the Royal Palace houses exhibitions and is open to the public. If you want to visit the Royal Palace, please check opening hours on the website: http://www.paleisamsterdam.nl/en/opening-hours.
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)
The construction of the Nieuwe Kerk started in 1408. After it burned down almost entirely in 1645 it was reconstructed in Gothic style. Nowadays the building isn’t used as a house of prayer any more. The church is now being used for ceremonies for the Royal Family. In 2013 King Willem Alexander was enthroned in the Nieuwe Kerk, where he married Queen Maxima in 2002.
When not used by the Royal Family the church is home to exhibition such as the World Press Photo Exhibition.
Madame Tussauds is a museum concept with museums around the world. The museums are home to wax statues of celebrities. The Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Amsterdam is house to both national and international celebrities. Be prepared to take a selfie with the Dutch Royal Family, Johnny Depp or Lionel Messi. The queue for the museum can be long, so if you want to skip the line purchase your tickets online.