At Dam Square you are literally standing on Amsterdam’s foundations. It is where a dam was placed in the river Amstel to connect settlements on the Warmoesstraat and the Nieuwendijk, nowadays two Amsterdam streets. Throughout the years the contraction of the words Amstel and Dam formed Amsterdam.
Dam Square is not really a place to visit to get a taste of the real Amsterdam, but when you arrive by train you probably pass it on your way into town. And there are some monuments located here that you really should not miss when visiting Amsterdam. On the eastside of the square you find the National Monument, a 22 meter high column commemorating the victims of the Second World War. According to some, the ugliest building in Netherlands, that should have been replaced when it was restored at the beginning of 2001 because of damage from the urine of many drunken men throughout the years. Whatever you think of it, its height does make it a convenient meeting point at the lively square.
Across the street, at the west side of the square you find the neoclassical Royal Palace. Originally built to serve as Amsterdam’s City Hall, it was turned into a palace for the royal family in 1808. In 2013, the just turned King Willem-Alexander was introduced to the nation on the balcony of this palace, flanked by his mother and now former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and his wife Maxima.
The New Church (Nieuwe Kerk in Dutch) is located to the right of the Royal Palace. After 600 years it’s hardly new, but a name change is not likely to occur. The New Church is a multifunctional building, which is known for impressive exhibitions like the Gold of the Scythians and the Dancing demons of Mongolia. You can also enjoy concerts, lectures or guided tours in the church.
Festivities on Dam Square
Throughout the year different festivities take place on Dam Square, like the springtime carnival with a towering Ferris wheel or a summer beach volleyball tournament. During winter the square oozes a party atmosphere as it is illuminated by a 20 meter-high Christmas tree that is lit by 40.000 energy-saving LED lights.