Renowned as one of Europe's most beautiful capital cities, Amsterdam has something to offer everyone. Its compact historic city centre makes it easy to walk around the canals and take in the unique architecture of the Golden Age. It's more of a cosy village than an overwhelming city. This 'Venice of the North' augments its famed 17th century glory with a thriving, cosmopolitan presence in the 21st century.
Amsterdam's historic center is bordered by the Singel canal, which curves around it like a smile; beyond lie the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht canals, lying parallel to one another in a horseshoe shape. Hundreds of bridges and smaller canals criss-cross between them.
Dam Square is at the heart of city life, while Leidseplein is unashamedly touristy. Museumplein holds many of Amsterdam's great museums and galleries - with more museums per capita than any other European city - and the city center contains thousands of historic protected buildings, many of them narrow, lofty former merchants' houses by the canals.
Amsterdam has a serious business side - it has one of Europe's largest seaports and stock exchanges - but visitors will be most struck by its intriguing blend of old and new, its fine old buildings spliced with impressive modern architecture, and its ability to combine the cosmopolitanism of a city with the friendliness of a small town.
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