Below you can find some more information on certain cities in the Netherlands.


w_alkm2.gif Alkmaar, town, western Netherlands, in North Holland Province, on the North Holland Canal, near Amsterdam. It is a trading center for cattle, corn, and dairy products; cheese is a major export and the town is famous for its cheese market. First mention of Alkmaar is in the 10th century in the description of a gift by Count Dirk I to the abbey of Egmond. Count Floris V granted city rights in 1254. In 1573 the town successfully withstood a Spanish siege. In October 1799, during the Napoleonic Wars, the commander in chief of the Anglo-Russian army in the Netherlands signed the French terms of capitulation in Alkmaar. Population (2000 estimate) 93,000.

waag.jpg Photo of the Weigh-building and famous Cheese Market. The Cheese Market is a show performed every Friday morning during tourist season. It attracts a large volume of visitors all coming to see a depiction of classical cheese trade and its associated movement of cheese from seller to buyer.

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w_ams2.gif Amsterdam (Netherlands), seaport, constitutional capital, and principal city, western Netherlands, in North Holland Province, on the IJ (an arm of the IJsselmeer), near The Hague. The real seat of national government, however, is in The Hague. Amsterdam is divided by canals into about 90 islands joined by about 400 bridges. Almost the entire city rests on a foundation of piles driven through peat and sand to a firm substratum of clay.



Amsterdam is one of the most important commercial centers in Europe. The city is a major port linked to the North Sea and other European countries by a network of railways and canals, notably the North Sea Canal, which is navigable by oceangoing vessels. Among leading industries in the city are shipbuilding, sugar refining, publishing, and the manufacture of heavy machinery, paper products, textiles and clothing, porcelain and glass, aircraft, automobiles, and chemicals. The city is also famous as a center for polishing and cutting diamonds and as the chief financial center of the Netherlands. A major European stock exchange is located in Amsterdam, as are the Bank of the Netherlands and several insurance firms.

Cultural Life

Amsterdam has been an important center of European cultural life since the 17th century. The city is the site of the National Academy of Art, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, and the University of Amsterdam (1632). Its Rijksmuseum contains one of the largest collections of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the world, and its Stedelijk Museum has an extensive collection of modern works. Amsterdam is also noted as the home of the renowned painter Rembrandt; his home is now a museum. The city has numerous examples of 16th- and 17th-century architecture, as well as two historic churches: Oude Kerk (Old Church), built about 1300, and Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), built in the 15th century. The royal palace, originally built in the 17th century as the town hall, stands on a large square in the center of the city.


Amsterdam, chartered as a city in 1300, became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1369. In the 17th century, after the successful conclusion of the Dutch wars for independence from Spain, Amsterdam became the chief commercial center of northern Europe. The city held this position until the late 18th century, when trade declined as a result of the silting of the Zuider Zee and the British blockade before and during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1810 Napoleon incorporated the Netherlands into the French Empire, but after his downfall the Netherlands regained its independence and Amsterdam was made the official capital of the country. In the latter part of the 19th century, commercial activities revived with the opening of the North Sea and North Holland canals. During World War II, Amsterdam was occupied by the German army for five years. The people suffered great hardship and the port was badly damaged, but it has since been rebuilt and improved. Population (1988 estimate) 691,700.

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The Hague

The Hague (Dutch 's Gravenhage, or Den Haag), seat of the government of the Netherlands (Amsterdam is the official capital), and capital of South Holland Province, in the western part of the country. Located about 6 km (about 4 mi) inland from the North Sea, it is the nation's third largest city and its chief administrative center. the Supreme Court of the Netherlands and the States-General (parliament) are here; the city is also the site of most foreign embassies. Integral parts of the surrounding metropolitan area include the famous beach resort of Scheveningen; Wassenaar, known for its tree-lined avenues and luxurious residences; and Rijswijk, Voorburg, and the new town of Zoetermeer.

The Hague is mainly residential, its economy based largely on government and administrative activities. the city is the site of the International Court of Justice, a United Nations agency, and is increasingly important as a center for international conferences. It is also an important transportation center with major highways, railroads, and canals providing access to Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Offices of Royal Dutch Shell and other major corporations are here. Diversified manufactures, produced at scattered locations throughout the metropolitan area, include the following: electronic equipment, metal products, chemicals, glass, printed materials, and chocolate and other processed food.

Points of Interest

Hague1.GIF Notable landmarks in The Hague include the Binnenhof (inner court) and Buitenhof (outer court), consisting of a group of government structures dating in part from the 13th century. These include the palace of the States-General, the courts of justice, and the Ridderzaal (Hall of the Knights), built in 1252, in which the states of the Netherlands repudiated the sovereignty of Philip II, king of Spain, in 1581. Ancient towers and gateways surround the group. Nearby to the north is the city's main square and the famous Mauritshuis Royal Art Gallery, known for its collection of 15th- to 17th-century Dutch paintings. Other historic landmarks include the 15th-century Groote Kerk (Great Church); the Stadhuis (City Hall, 1565); and the Gevangenpoort (Prison Gate), now a museum, where the Dutch statesmen Jan De Witt and Cornelis De Witt were murdered in 1672. Modern buildings of interest are the Peace Palace (1913), endowed by the American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1903 and now the home of the International Court of Justice; the modern Municipal Building; and the Netherlands Congress Center (1969). Educational institutions in The Hague include the Institute of Social Studies (1952), the Royal Conservatory of Music and Dance (1826), and the Royal Academy of Fine and Applied Arts (1682). Madurodam, a miniature reconstruction of an old Dutch town, is a popular tourist attraction.


The Hague originated as a hunting seat of the counts of Holland. It became the center of court life after William of Holland built a castle here in 1248, and in the late 16th century the city emerged as the Dutch capital during the revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish rule. It was under French control from 1795 to 1813 and again became the center of court life in 1815 with the establishment of the kingdom of the United Netherlands, which included present-day Belgium until 1830. The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 (see: Hague Conferences) increased the city's longstanding importance as an international diplomatic and judicial center and led to the establishment here of the Hague Tribunal, or Permanent Court of Arbitration. Since the early 1970s efforts have been made to relocate some of the city's governmental functions to less developed outlying provinces. Population (1988 estimate) 444,300.

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