How laid back is Amsterdam? Well, consider this:
On Sunday, Apr. 20, it is exactly 200 years ago that Amsterdam became the capital of the Netherlands. Reason to celebrate, one might think — were it not for the fact that the city’s rulers completely forgot about the event.
Mayor Job Cohen and Alderman Lodewijk Asscher are now looking into the possibility of organizing a belated celebration later this year.
We figure they have simply been too busy trying to sink money into the ground for the North-South subway line — again delayed, and again predicted to cost far more than the politicians promised. (Imagine that…)
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Alternative, perhaps their attention was taken up by the council’s current efforts to gentrify the Red Light District.
Then there are those who draw a correlation between the Amsterdam’s many ‘coffeeshops’ and the general state of affairs at city hall.
Whatever the case, things were different a hundred years ago. Back then the centennial was richly celebrated with a feast that lasted a full week. On that occasion Queen Wilhemina and prins Hendrik visited the city for a few days.
On the same day, April 20, 1808, Lodewijk Napoleon headed a parade from The Hague — where he resided — to Amsterdam.
Lodewijk Napoleon was, in 1806, installed by his brother Napoleon Bonaparte as King of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. At the time he announced that Amsterdam would become the country’s capital.
In 1808 he moved into the palace at Dam square — which until then had been Amsterdam’s city hall.
According to Amsterdam daily Het Parool Lodewijk Napoleon promised to built himself a new palace in Amsterdam, so that the building at Dam square could again be used as city hall. That never happened.
Happy fact: while Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, The Hague is the seat of government. We like it that way.
Incidentally, Amsterdam is of course much older than 200 years:
The first known record of Amsterdam is 27 October 1275, when the inhabitants of a late 12th century fishing village who had built a bridge with a dam across the Amstel were granted freedom by count Floris V from paying a bridge toll . The certificate’s wording (homines manentes apud Amestelledamme – people living near Amestelledamme) gives the first known use of the name Amsterdam, which by 1327 had developed into Aemsterdam.
A local tradition has the city being founded by two fishermen, who landed on the shores of the Amstel in a small boat with their dog. In any case, Amsterdam’s origin is relatively recent in comparison with other Dutch cities such as Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
- Source: Wikipedia, accessed Apr. 19, 2008
Some say the city may actually be even older.
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