A Few Fun Facts About Amsterdam

While we at Sir have an ongoing love affair with a few cities, Amsterdam stole our heart first and refuses to let go. The Dutch have life figured out, and their fair capital is all of this demonstrated in the most culturally dense city in the world. At our two Amsterdam outposts, Sir Albert and Sir Adam, we’ve heard some amusing facts about the city, and we’ve listed out some of our favorites.


  • Literally putting the “dam” in “Amsterdam.” The city got its start in the 12th century when fishermen settled along the Amstel River and built a bridge that acted as a protective dam for the village. A document dated 27 October 1275 is the earliest instance of the term "Aemstelredamme," aka "dam in the river Amstel," which eventually became “Amsterdam.”
  • De Wallen (the red-light district) has existed since the year 1200, when the city was only two rows of houses along the city’s first canal (gotta love the Dutch!). The name De Wallen comes from the fact that walls enclosed the area. Kreupel Steeg, aka Cripple Alley, located in the red-light district, gets its name from the people with disabilities who went to the alley hoping to be cured from their conditions in a…special, special way.
  • The houses are narrow for a reason. In the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, houses were taxed on the width of their façade. The people that were feeling the cheapest built Oude Hoogstraat 22—it’s 2.02 meters wide.
  • Also during the Dutch Golden Age’s tulip mania, one tulip bulb was worth the same as a canal house.
  • Weed and coffee shops aren’t technically legal in Amsterdam. The police just choose look the other way…thousands of times a day.
  • The city has more bikes than people, totaling at over 881,000. Around 15,000 are pulled out of the canals every years. And Amsterdammers bike a combined 2 million kilometers every day.
  • Amsterdam has 51 museums, the most of any capital city in the world. There’s a museum for everything you can imagine, even purses. And Amsterdam has the only museum in the world that you can bike through—the Rijksmuseum!
  • The canal water is technically so clean that you can drink it (but maybe don’t and say you did). Try not to scream when your canal tour guide drinks the water in front of you.
  • Amsterdam has over 20 million tourists a year, which is over 20 times the city’s population. Thanks for being one of them.

You can get a tour of Amsterdam's nightlife with a local legend, learn how to roll a joint in the city's best coffee shop, get guided to the coolest vintage boutiques and more with our experience service, Sir Explore.