The Netherlands: true art knows no bounds

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Main facts:

  • Capital city: Amsterdam

  • Language(s): Dutch

  • Currency: Euro, EUR

  • Population: 17,208,000

  • Timezone: UTC+1

  • Main religion: Protestantism (33%)

  • Standard of living (subjectively): high

Top 10 interesting places and activities:

Approximate costs (person/day):

~€ 15-50

~€ 2-7

~€ 5-10

~€ 5-20

Sights map of the Netherlands

Travel around the Netherlands

The Netherlands has historically been a collection of different peoples living in the territory of present-day Belgium, Holland and Germany. From the coming of the Romans to this land until the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in the 17th century, the Netherlands did not exist as a single independent state, and were united only under the rule of William the Silent. In 1581, he proclaimed independence of his land, but the ongoing war with France and Britain did not allow the country to become independent over the next 80 years. Only in 1648 the Netherlands became a sovereign country, and from that moment began a huge economic recovery and the growth of the welfare of local residents.

In 1830, Belgium separated from the Netherlands and became independent; in 1890 Luxembourg gained the sovereignty. Thus, the Kingdom of the Netherlands fully formed its territory by the beginning of the 20th century. In the First World War, the country did not participate, but in the Second World War was occupied by German troops and was partially destroyed. The restoration of the Netherlands according to the Marshall Plan led to a new round of social and economic development. The Netherlands owned extensive overseas colonies in America and Asia, and as a result of mass immigration, they received a multinational population, which is still here to this day. Since the end of the 70s, the country has been pursuing an active social policy; as a result, many of unemployment benefits, wages and pensions have become one of the highest in the world.

 

Today, the Netherlands is a prosperous rich country, where a well-balanced economy provides a minimum level of unemployment and poverty with high wages and excellent social guarantees. But the high standard of living is well complemented by rainy and cool weather due to the near Atlantic Ocean and a huge amount of water. There is so much water in the country that almost all of its residents have their own boats and move on them along branched water channels, which literally fill every city and suburb. Perhaps there are more boats than cars in the country. But the climate here is mild and allows to use bikes all year round, that is why the Netherlands has the highest number of bikes in the world. Due to the peculiarities of the relief, the main part of the country is below sea level, and as a result, the world's largest dam project for fencing off the ocean was built to survive here - the Delta Works. Also millions of tulips are also grown here (like in the Keukenhof gardens). The country has excellent ecology, excellent public transport system and many unique attractions that deserves your special attention!

Take, for example, the capital city of Amsterdam. This is world-famous city of canals, noisy avenues and absolute freedom. Once the main trading capital of Europe today turned into an international tourist hub. Here in each house there is a shop or a pub, every 5 houses there is a canal with boats and ships, on each road there are dedicated lanes for cycling, and every 100–200 meters there are beautiful buildings in the famous Dutch style. Dutch art is about painting, precision engineering, music, shipbuilding and even floristry. The museum of history and art of the country Rijksmuseum presents thousands of exhibits of the Dutch heritage, for which the country is famous. In addition to ancient art, the city has many other museums, including the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums, the NEMO science and technology center, and even the first Sex Museum in the world. The last object is not by chance here, as it was precisely the port city of Amsterdam that was one of the first cities to legalize prostitution by diverting an entire Red Light district in the center of the city, which still exists today. Amsterdam is truly a city of freedom; there is an excellent situation with equality, tolerance to everything and a lot of opportunities to spend time with interest and taste.

However, the Netherlands is much more than Amsterdam. If you will go outside, the quite different landscapes begins: calm and deserted streets, small houses with sharp roofs, friendly people and absolute tranquility. For example, the famous water mills in Kinderdijk and Zaanse Shans, introduced into the UNESCO World Heritage, have been grinding grain for hundreds of years here. In the small towns of Edam, Alkmaar, Gouda and Maasdam, world-famous cheeses are prepared, and many settlements in the region are literally exist on islands surrounded by water. Enough to come to the fabulous villages of Zuiderzee, Giethoorn or Arnhem to see this in reality. Hundreds of canals and rivers provide excellent opportunities for boating or relaxing by the water.

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The highly urbanized northwest of the Netherlands cannot be compared with the rural landscapes of the southeast, which is filled with tulip fields and water canals. Water here is no less, so in every town you can find many rivers and canals. Their depth is small, but the abundance of water from the nearby ocean and the frequent rainy weather do not allow them to dry up even on the hottest days. Small cities in South Holland are not at all like the built-up blocks of the north. For example, the buildings in Delft, one of the most beautiful cities in South Holland, do not exceed 3-4 floors in height. It has small canal streets that are mostly pedestrian, and the central square that is decorated with a rich old town hall, a majestic Cathedral and apartment houses on its background. This is a very quiet and peaceful place where it is pleasant and comfortable to have leisure time. Here you can slowly walk along the canals, sit in outdoor cafes and admire the traditional Dutch architecture ....

... In Delft you can get on the tram to the ocean in the coastal metropolis of The Hague just in half an hour. Like the nearby Rotterdam, it is a jumble of skyscrapers of various shapes and designs. It only remains to be amazed how much fantasy architects had, who created such masterpieces. In contrast to the vibrant and bustling Rotterdam, The Hague is a more solid and conservative city. However, it also underwent colossal changes in the middle of the last century, when the Hague was made the capital of world justice: the UN International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Arbitration and other international organizations concentrated here. Since then, the Hague has become a major metropolis, has acquired a modern charm and constructivist forms. Just look at these skyscrapers, rising hundreds of meters high! They suppress by their power, but compensate it with their unusual forms and color inserts, so characteristic of modern Dutch architecture.

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One of the most beautiful palaces in the country Binnenhof is located in The Hague, the historic residence of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Also here is the Peace Palace, where the headquarters of the International Court of Justice is located. Surprisingly, its ancient architectural style says nothing about the date of construction - the beginning of the last century, after the end of the First World War. The Hague is the third largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam and Rotterdam and one of the largest in terms of area. It stretches for tens of kilometers along the coastline, along which lies one of the longest ocean promenades in the Netherlands with the famous resort town of Scheveningen. Thousands of tourists come here in the summer to relax and unwind from the bustle of the city, as well as for swimming in the cool waters of the North Sea. But if suddenly you do not have the desire to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean with water at +14 degrees Celsius, then in the vicinity there are many places for rest and enlightenment. You can stroll along the ocean shore and ascend the pier, enjoy art at the Escher Museum, see the collection of cars at the Louwman Museum, visit the Madurodam miniature park or relax in the well-kept Rosarium or Japanese garden. The Hague is a combination of the conservative bohemia and dynamic modernity, constantly rebuilding itself in favor of postmodernity. Here you can go to the opera or theater, spend the day shopping for high fashion brands, dive into the ocean or enjoy the palaces and English parks, which are full of flowers and stretch for dozens of kilometers. But the absolute record for dynamism and modern style is the neighboring city of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands with the largest seaport in Europe.