Amsterdam 2013 - Amsterdam City

The Chinese have an old saying - “I'll send you to Holland”. This used to mean sending someone to the end of nowhere, as Holland used to be as remote a place from China or Hong Kong as can be imagined. Today in the age of globalization, no country can be considered as remote anymore. In fact Holland - or more correctly Netherlands, is one of the most popular tourists destinations in the World. One look at Amsterdam and you can understand why.

Criss-crossed by countless canals, Amsterdam is a visually striking city filled with lots of beautiful heritage buildings. And because it largely avoided the destruction during the 2nd World War that many European cities suffered, most of these buildings are the real thing and not replicas. That gives it a sense of authenticity that rebuilt cities don’t have, and that is a big part of its charm.

Netherlands is a very low lying country with much of its land mass sitting at only 1m above sea level. In fact around 20% of its land mass is actually below sea level, and the sea water is kept out through an extensive system of dykes. It is also made of of mostly peaty swap areas, which pose a challenged to construction. That is why most of the buildings in Amsterdam are quite low, and even many of  those have suffered some form of settlement in the foundation, causing the buildings to lean and tilt in different directions. If you look carefully, you can see that most of the buildings are in fact not straight but lean to the front or to the side, given it a fairy-tale sort of rickety look.

One of the most handsome heritage buildings in Amsterdam is the Central Station. Located right at the end of Damrak - the main street, this red brick building has an imposing scale but unfortunately cut off the city from its waterfront.


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