Discover the history of one of Europe’s most beautiful and influential cities with Our Amsterdam History Tour
Recently described as “the birthplace of liberalism” by writer and historian Russel Shorto, Amsterdam has an incredible, vibrant, moving history, that has left a legacy that has impacted the entire world. Discover all of this and more on our comprehensive Amsterdam History tour!
Our Amsterdam History Tour can be taken by bike or on foot, and is an amazing opportunity to learn about the incredible history of the city. Join us on a journey through the past that explains how Amsterdam gained its reputation as one of the most diverse and influential city’s on earth.
Amsterdam was founded circa 1190, when a small community arrived at the mouth of the River Amstel and decided to attempt to dam the river. Their efforts were successful, and they were able to create land out of literally nothing – the entirety of Amsterdam now sits on land that should be beneath water. Our Amsterdam History Tour Starts at Dam Square, where you will learn how this historic location has changed in tandem with Amsterdam as a whole.
Amsterdam has an Amazing history
Amsterdam has gone from strength to strength, despite having faced enormous challenges. During the medieval period the city built its name and influence on trading in preserved fish, particularly herring. As Europe became engulfed in the religious conflicts of the reformation Amsterdam challenged the Hegemony of the mighty Holy Roman Empire, turning the city into a haven of religious tolerance. In time this drew oppressed and disowned peoples from across the world to make a home in the Free City. During the Eighty Years War the city played a crucial role in the establishment of the Netherlands as an independent state, and in the subsequent struggle between Republican and Monarchist Dutch factions within the nation.
During the 17th century the city entered its Golden Age, a period of unprecedented prosperity that catapulted Amsterdam to the forefront of international trade and politics. The spectacular wealth of this period encouraged the arts and sciences, and many of Amsterdam’s most famous artists and inventors, such as Jan Van Der Heyden and Rembrandt.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the rise to power of the fascinating Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the VOC, famous in the English speaking world as the Dutch East India Company. Our tour includes several important East India Company locations, and will cover the ways in which the company shaped the world as we know it. We will stop by the Amsterdam Maritime Museum to view the spectacular Amsterdam, a replica of the type of Dutch Indiaman trading ship used by the VOC at the height of its power!
Our tour covers Amsterdam’s rise and fall as an international trading city
In the 19th century Amsterdam saw a decline in its influence and wealth, but this was also a period of architectural redesign and restructure. Several new stations and museums were built, including the Rijksmuseum and Centraal station, today both considered part of the national heritage of the Netherlands.
During the Twentieth Century, Amsterdam suffered periods of severe unrest, famine and war. During the First World War the city suffered food shortages that caused lethal riots – we will visit the sites of some of the violence, and will consider the role of mob action and rioting in the cities history. We will also visit the historic Jewish quarter of the city, where we discuss the long and vibrant history of the Jewish community in Amsterdam, from its arrival in the late 16th century to its terrible suffering during World War Two, and then its incredible revival in the aftermath of the war.
Amsterdam’s breathtaking past has changed the face of the world. From the stock exchange to the groundbreaking works of Rembrandt, from the liberal philosophy of Baruch Spinoza to the social engineering theories of Jan Van Der Heyden, Amsterdam has left an indelible mark on human history. Our tour will help you to understand the city by journeying through its past in a tour that will bring to life the figures and events that made Amsterdam the birthplace of liberalism.
Our tour includes:
- The Dutch East India Company House.
- The Red Light District.
- Masterpieces of Dutch art.
- Widest Bridge and the smallest house in Amsterdam.
- World’s first Stock Exchange.
- The Old Church.
- The New Market.
- The Royal Palace.
- Leaning buildings & gable stones.
Your tour will be led by a postgraduate history student, who has extensively studied the history of the city and is fully prepared to answer all of your questions. And if there is a specific part of the city or its history that you are interested in, just contact us and we will tailor a tour to your tastes!
Looking for more stuff to do in the great city of Amsterdam? Look no further! We have a huge range of activities and attractions on offer, all at competitive prices! Check out our activities page to see the full range of what’s on offer!
Map of the city
Duration: 3 hours
Starting time: Daily on request
Starting Point: 74 Spuistraat, Amsterdam
Please note that while the tour usually includes the sites and stories above, your tour may vary!