Amsterdam has its origins as a fishing village in the 13th century. Fisherman dammed the mouth of the Amstel river, creating a natural harbor. The name 'Amsterdam' derives from the Dutch 'Aemstelledamme,' literally 'dam on the Amstel.' The city was incorporated around 1300 under the authority of the bishop of Utrecht. Later, the city fell under the control of Holland. The Miracle of the Host was alleged to take place in Amsterdam in the year 1325, which involved a Host that was set on fire, but did not burn the hand of whoever touched it. Every year, a Stille Omgang, or silent procession, takes place around the 12th of March to commemorate the event.

Eighty Years' War

    In the late 16th century, William I, Prince of Orange, led a revolt against the religious intolerance of Spain and its king, Phillip II, which led to the Eighty Years' War. The Dutch were successful in overthrowing Spanish rule in 1648, when they gained their independence as the United Provinces of the Netherlands. This ushered in an era of religious tolerance, and Amsterdam became a haven for those persecuted for their beliefs. It also marked the beginning of Holland's rise to world superpower status.

Global Trade

    Taking advantage of its location, Amsterdam became one of the busiest port towns in the world during the 17th century. Dutch trading ships sailed to Africa, the Americas and all over Europe, establishing colonies and bringing in untold wealth. Thus, Amsterdam experienced a Golden Age. Amsterdam became a financial center of the world, establishing the first continually-trading stock exchange. The city's population boomed, rising to around 200,000 around the year 1700. A large portion of this was due to immigrants, who came from all over Western Europe.

18th and 19th Centuries

     Amsterdam declined from its height during the Golden Age in the 18th century, due to wars with France and Great Britain. This lasted until the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century, when canals and waterways were built, improving transport and again making Amsterdam a center commerce.

20th Century

    The Germans occupied Amsterdam during World War II, and deported around 100,000 Jews. The most famous of these was a young girl named Anne Frank, who chronicled the events in her eponymous Diary. The city's reputation for its liberal drug policy came about during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s.