Access Issues In The Netherlands

Many people tell Laura they are surprised that her campaign includes an effort to achieve an access law for guide and assistance dogs in Holland as well as in Curaçao and the Netherlands Antilles.

Those same people assume that this leader in legislated human rights applies those same rights to people who are disabled.  The Kingdom of the Netherlands does have legislation that protects individuals from discrimination of any kind, whether they be disabled or not. But there is no protection for guide and assistance dogs as there is in other countries.

So if someone using a service animal is barred from entering any public venue that non-disabled people enter, the onus is on the individual to bring a complaint and initiate an action - that protection isn't offered by the government.

A campaign has already been underway in the Netherlands to correct this discrimination and Laura is adding her voice and support to the effort. You can read more about Laura and Wagner's problems initially being denied access to a public library, a tram and the Anne Frank House Museum, and being asked to wear a red jacket at IKEA in the Articles section of our website.

        A tram crossing a bridge over the river Amstel         

There are many resources made available to disabled people in the Netherlands, but pedestrian mobility can be tricky and somewhat dangerous, especially for someone who is blind or visually impaired because of the trams, as well as bicycles parked on sidewalks and the density of the urban population.

For those who can see well, Amsterdam is one of the most architecturally beautiful cities in the world, and we hope you enjoy browsing through the information gathered below from a variety of sources.

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From Wikipedia

 Image:Wapen van Amsterdam bewerkt.PNG 

Location of Amsterdam

Amsterdam  (IPA[ɑmstərˈdɑm]) is the capital and the largest city of The Netherlands. Its name is derived from Amstel dam,[6] pointing to the city's origin: a dam on the river Amstel. The city is known for its historic port, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, its red-light district, its liberal coffee shop policy, and its many canals which have led to Amsterdam being called the "Venice of the North".

A woodcut (1885) of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, a canal that is now a filled up       A bird's-eye view of Amsterdam's city centre       Boat on the Prinsengracht in 2006

Founded as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, because of its innovative developments in trade. During this time, the city was the leading centre for finance and diamonds.[7]

The city proper comprises 751,251 inhabitants, of at least 175 nationalities.[8][9] Amsterdam and its surrounding metropolitan area has a population of 1 to 1.5 million people, depending on definition. This area is part of the Randstad conurbation, which has a population of 6,659,300. Moreover, Amsterdam is a six-point Gamma Global City.[10]


The first known record of Amsterdam is 27 October 1275, when the inhabitants of a late 12th century fishing village, who had built a bridge with a dam across the Amstel, were exempted from paying a bridge toll by count Floris V.[11] The certificate's wording homines manentes apud Amestelledamme (people living near Amestelledamme) gives the first known use of the name Amsterdam, which by 1327 had developed into Aemsterdam.[11] A local romance has the city being founded by two fishermen, who landed on the shores of the Amstel in a small boat with their dog.[citation needed] Amsterdam's origin is relatively recent when compared to other Dutch cities such as Nijmegen, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.

Painting of Amsterdam in 1538
Painting of Amsterdam in 1538

Amsterdam was granted city rights in 1300 or 1306.[12] From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely due to the trade with the Hanseatic League. In 1345, an alleged Eucharistic miracle in the Kalverstraat rendered the city an important place of pilgrimage until the alteration to the protestant faith. The Stille Omgang—a silent procession in civil attire—is a remnant of the rich pilgrimage history.[13]

In the 16th century, the Dutch rebelled against Philip II of Spain and his successors. Main reasons for the uprise were the imposition of new taxes, the tenth penny, and the religious persecution of Protestantism by the Spanish Inquisition. The revolt escalated into the Eighty Years' War, which ultimately led to Dutch independence.[14] Strongly pushed by Dutch Revolt leader William the Silent, the Dutch Republic became known for its relative religious tolerance. Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Huguenots from France, prosperous merchants and printers from Flanders as well as economic and religious refugees from the Spanish controlled parts of the Low Countries found safety in Amsterdam. The influx of Flemish printers and the city's intellectual tolerance made Amsterdam a hotbed of the European free press.[15]

Dam Square in the late 17th century: painting by Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde
Dam Square in the late 17th century: painting by Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde

The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's Golden Age when it became one of the wealthiest cities in the world.[citation needed] Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, Africa as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam's merchants had the largest share in both, the VOC (Dutch East India Company) and the WIC (Dutch West India Company). These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became Dutch colonies. Amsterdam was Europe's most important point for the trans-shipment of goods and the leading financial centre of the world.[citation needed] In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the VOC became the first stock exchange in the world by trading in its own shares.[16]

Amsterdam's prosperity declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The wars of the Dutch Republic with England and France took their toll on Amsterdam. During the Napoleonic Wars, Amsterdam's fortunes reached their lowest point.[citation needed] However, the establishment of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 marks a turning point. New developments, by people such as city planner Samuel Sarphati, drew their inspiration from Paris.[citation needed]

View on the Munttoren in 1900
View on the Munttoren in 1900

The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age.[17] New museums, a train station, and the Concertgebouw were built. At this time, the Industrial Revolution reached Amsterdam. The Amsterdam-Rhine Canal was dug to give Amsterdam a direct connection to the Rhine, and the North Sea Canal to give the port a shorter connection to the North Sea. Both projects improved the exchange with the rest of Europe and the world dramatically. In 1906, Joseph Conrad gives a brief description of Amsterdam as seen from the seaside, in The Mirror of the Sea. Shortly before World War I, the city began expanding and new suburbs were built. Even though the Netherlands remained neutral in this war, Amsterdam suffered a food shortage and heating fuel became scarce. The shortages sparked riots in which several people were killed. These riots are known as the Aardappeloproer. People started looting stores and warehouses in order to get supplies, mainly food. [18]

Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 and took control of the country within five days of fighting.[citation needed] The Germans installed a Nazi civilian government in Amsterdam that cooperated in the persecution of Jews.[citation needed] Some Amsterdam citizens sheltered Jews, thereby exposing themselves and their families to the high risk of being imprisoned or sent to concentration camps, too. More than 103,000 to 105,000 Dutch Jews were deported to concentration camps. Perhaps the most famous deportee was the young German girl Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.[19] Only 5,000 Dutch Jews survived the war.[citation needed] At the end of World War II, communication with the rest of the country broke down, and food and fuel became scarce. Many citizens traveled to the countryside to forage. Dogs, cats, raw sugar beets, and Tulip bulbs—cooked to a pulp—were consumed to stay alive.[20] Most of the trees in Amsterdam were cut down for fuel, and all the wood was taken from the apartments of deported Jews. After the war approximately 120,000 Dutch were prosecuted for their collaboration with Germany.[citation needed]

Subway station Nieuwmarkt with historic images of the Nieuwmarktrellen
Subway station Nieuwmarkt with historic images of the Nieuwmarktrellen

Many new suburbs, such as Osdorp, Slotervaart, Slotermeer, and Geuzenveld, were built in the years following World War II.[21] These suburbs contained many public parks and wide open spaces, while the new buildings provided improved housing conditions with larger and brighter rooms, gardens, and balconies. Due to the war and other incidences of the 20th century, almost the whole city centre had fallen into disrepair. As society was changing, politicians and other influential figures made plans to redesign large parts of it. There was an increasing demand for office buildings and new roads as the automobile became available to most common people.[22] A metro started operating between the new suburb of Bijlmer and the centre of Amsterdam. Further plans were to built a new highway atop of the metro to connect the central station and city centre with other parts of the city.

The incorporated large scale demolitions began in the formerly Jewish neighborhood of Amsterdam. Smaller streets like the Jodenbreestraat were widened and saw almost all their houses demolished. When the destructions culminated, the Nieuwmarktrellen (Nieuwmarkt riots) broke out.[23] Therein, people expressed their fury about the demolitions accorded to the restructuring of the city. As a result, demolitions were ceased, the highway never accomplished, and only the metro was finished. Only a few streets remained widened. The destroyed buildings were replaced by new ones corresponding to the medieval street plan of the neighborhood.[citation needed]

The new city hall was built on the almost completely demolished Waterlooplein. In the meanwhile, large private organizations, such as Stadsherstel Amsterdam, were founded with the aim to restore the entire city centre. While the success of this struggle is convincingly visible today, efforts for further restorations are still ongoing.[24] The entire city centre has attained its former splendor and—as a whole—is now a protected area. Many of its buildings have become monuments and plans exist to make the Grachtengordel (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht) a Unesco World Heritage site.[25]


Fly Over Amsterdam in 3D

Amsterdam - City Of Dreams

Amsterdam Museums