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View the Majesty of Amsterdam
by Roy Witman © 2008

Anyone who has been to Amsterdam will quickly tell you there are three major attractions: museums, canals and tulips. All three offer their own unique range of beauty that continues to draw flocks of tourists from around the world. Before booking your next trip to Amsterdam, take a closer look at the wonders this ancient city has to offer.

Museums in Amsterdam

While most people with even a vague familiarity with Amsterdam will recognize the names Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum, this regal city has many others from which to choose.

Located at the center of Dam Square, the Amsterdam Historical Museum was once the city's orphanage. Focusing on what those native to Amsterdam call its Golden Age (in the 17th century), this museum highlights more prosperous times when Amsterdam was the richest city in the world.

There is even a museum for kids. The NEMO museum focuses on science and technology and offers children four floors of experiments and exhibitions to explore. This giant, green, boat-shaped building is easy to spot.


No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a tour of the canals. Bearing a striking similarity to Venice, Amsterdam has a landscape swirled with waterways. The four main city center canals are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel; however, smaller versions are found throughout Amsterdam.

Because the canals take you right up to much of the city's stunning architecture, they are the perfect way to tour the sites. This is why many cruise lines, including Holland America, offer canal excursions. With towering church steeples, majestic buildings and apartments built with strict space-saving engineering, Amsterdam is truly home to the brownstones found so commonly in New York City. Called Canal Houses, you'll see these remarkable structures dotted all over Amsterdam.

One site you'll certainly want to view is the Centraal Station. Easily mistaken for a palace by tourists, the twin clock towers (one is actually a chronometer) are just part of its magnificence. Made of red stone, the Centraal Station is adorned with architectural adornments including carvings and spires. It is truly amazing!

Tulips in Full Bloom

According to some accounts, tulips made their way from their native Russia to Holland in 1562. The original color of the tulip is red. However, through pre- engineering and a few accidents, the Dutch crossbred an entire rainbow of colors including yellow, orange, purple, pink and white plus variegated and other varieties.

After many years of bulb development, tulips finally became a prosperous trade for Holland. In fact, tulips became so quickly acclimated to the atmosphere and thrived so gloriously that Holland (especially Amsterdam) is now known as the tulip capital of the world.

From lavish gardens filled with tulips and other blooms to the Artis Zoo to splendid buildings, Amsterdam offers both education and entertainment for the entire family.