Category: History

Was Amsterdam named after a dam in the river Amstel?

Most tourist guides say that Amsterdam developed around a dam built in the river Amstel around 1270 AD, and that this dam — which was located at present-day Dam Square — gave the city its name.

But historians say that decades earlier the small settlement in the Amstel delta was already known as ‘Aemsterdam’ or, alternatively, ‘Amstelredam.’

Amsterdam history: The Alteration

Until 1578 Amsterdam was largely Cathlolic, with two large parish churches — the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) — as well as six chapels along with numerous monasteries and convents.

But in 1578 Calvinists seized power and Amsterdam became the Protestant capital of an infant Dutch republic.