Lying in the heart of historic Amsterdam, just a few hundred metres south of Centraal Station, is Dam Square. Dating from medieval times, the square takes its name from the dam on the Amstel River – a combination which would also give the city its name. The dam linked two settlements to the north and south of the river, and around them, Amsterdam grew.
Dam Square became a hub of activity. A fish market developed where ships unloaded their goods. Further stalls and markets sprung up. And the town hall was built in 1655. Following the filling in of part of the Amstel River in the 1800s, the new land was used for the stock exchange and, later, the De Bijenkorf department store.
A morning in Dam Square can take in several of the city’s most impressive landmarks. The town hall was converted into the Royal Palace in 1808, and just next to is the Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th century Gothic church now used as an exhibition space. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is also nearby. At the other end of Dam Square is the gleaming white pillar of the National Monument, built in honour of the victims of World War II.
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