Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Amsterdam (The dam of the Amstel), the capital of Holland, situated on the Amstel river, where it falls into the Y, an inlet of the Zuyder Zee. The city is built upon piles driven into a marsh, and is intersected by many canals spanned by no less than 300 bridges. The river separates the old from the new town. In the 12th century Amsterdam was a mere fishing village. At the end of the 14th century fortifications, now converted into promenades, were raised on the land side. The Spaniards held the place until 1578, and it was only after asserting its independence that the port began to prosper rapidly. In 1787 it was taken by the Russians, and for some years after 1795 it was subject to France. Its recognition as capital of the kingdom of Holland dates from 1808. Though no longer on the same scale as in the palmy days of Dutch supremacy in the East and West Indies, the trade of Amsterdam is still very great. The Helder and Wyk Canals give it ready communication with the sea, while the docks and basins provide room for a large number of vessels. Among the fine buildings that adorn the town are the Stadt-house (1648), the Exchange (1634), the old and the new churches, the East and West India Houses, and the once famous Bank. Besides its commerce with all quarters of the globe, amounting to about half a million of tons yearly, Amsterdam has many industries, such as shipbuilding, chemical products, the weaving of damasks, velvets, and carpets, and above all the cutting of diamonds and precious stones. Spinoza was a native of Amsterdam, and Rembrandt made his home there.