Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dam - the Amsterdam City Centre

Dam Square is the Amsterdam city centre, not far from the main central railway station , rather I would say at conveniently walking distance - only about 750 meters. All roads lead to Dam through markets and beautifully kept and attractive shops shops.

After we had had a wonderful boat ride of the Amsterdam city, we headed for Dam - rather we started following one of the many streams of tourists going into the direction of Dam. The Dam Square is in fact historically the actually city centre of the city, with a large open space in the centre surrounded by many historical building including the historical Royal Palace. Dam was originally used as a fish market for its closeness to the river where ships could dock and load/unload their cargo.

Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace)- completed in 1655 was originally Amsterdam's town hall which became an imperial palace in 1808 during Napoleon's reign.can be seen in the photos below:

Adjacent to the palace (as can be seen to its right)  is the Gothic Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam's New Church dating back to the 14th century. These days it is being used as an exhibition/function space. 

Why it is called Dam, you may wonder. Well it means exactly the same as a dam is in English language. The name refers to a dam on the Amstel River. It is almost rectangular and stretches approximately 200 meters from west to east and almost 100 meters from north to south. It links the streets Damrak and Rokin, which run along the original course of the Amstel River from Centraal Station to Muntplein (Mint Square) and the Munttoren (Mint Tower).

(the main railway station) and also after the boat ride, we followed everyone as all seemed to be heading towards the city centre.

However, by this time, it was almost lunch time and while walking we kept looking for something to eat and luckily we came across a shop, as can be seen below, which sold gigantic French Fries with a healthy splash of sauce. 

We straightaway bough a hefty pack of fries for each one of us, as can be seen in the photo below wherein my son is holding his pack with a bottle of cold drink. and let me tell you itt was the best French fries of my life.

While eating these mighty French fries, we kept walking towards the Dam Square while many other tourists chose to sit at road side eateries and order many mouth watering snacks and sandwiches. 

Streets leading towards the Dam Square

And soon we arrived at the Dam Square and which was already full of visitors, tourists and vendors.

  Bijenkorf Warehouse
The building to the right with a green dome is the the Great Industrial Club Building

There are many historical and attractive building overlooking the square besides the old Royal Palace as can be seen in the photos above. While moving about and crossing the roads, one has to be very careful of the electric trams, which almost bump into you as these are without any sound unless you are very careful. I almost did.

In one corner of the square is the famous "Nationaal Monument op de Dam" or simply the National Monument (above and below) - a 1956 World War II monument. Here each year on 4 May the national Remembrance of the Dead ceremony is held  to commemorate the casualties of World War II.

 My son sitting right in the centre of the Dam Square

Having seen and visited the Amsterdam Centraal, the boat ride and the Dam Square, our eyes were all fixed on one building in the Dam Square: Madame Tussaud - a museum famous for its wax statues of the world famous celebrities. Although the main museum is in London, this subsidiary of the main has a number of statues - but not as rich as that in London.

Madame Tussaud is located in the Peek & Cloppenburg —  a German company famous internationally for its fashion department stores. The building, in the neo-Classical style, was opened on April 17, 1916 is listed as a national monument.

This museum alone will be part of my next two posts as there are so many statues of famous people from around the world to share and with who we had the pleasure of having a photo. So stay tuned for what we found and saw inside the Madame Tussuad wax museum.

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