Sunday, August 1, 2010

Amsterdam a beautiful city.

Amsterdam in the Netherlands

I remember well my first time to fly into the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which is the Netherlands' main international airport, located 20 minutes southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. This was in the mid-70s when I was part of a tour group headed to Israel and the Holyland.

Since this was a spring trip we were able to visit to the Dutch countryside to see the tulip fields in bloom. Touring Keukenhof Gardens, the worlds' largest tulip gardens, was a wonderful shore excursion, but we were amazed at the amazing cultivated gardens throughout the country. We also saw tulip fields in Noord Holland, Zuid Holland, and Friesland. In addition, there were some beautiful tulip fields next to Keukenhof Gardens, near the large windmills.

I could not image the colorful display of tulips and other springtime bulbs in bloom at the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens! The unforgettable seasonal display is created by more than seven million tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, spring bulbs and gorgeous trees. Keukenhof is one of Holland's top attractions and our hassle-free tour is the easiest way to get to these out-of-the-way gardens since we were limited on time between flights.

Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The city is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of around 6.7 million.

Its name is derived from Amstellerdam, indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were formed.

Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world is located in the city center. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually.

The Hague is the third largest city in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam, is located in the west of the country, in the province of South Holland, of which it is also the provincial capital.

The Hague is the seat of government, but not the capital of the Netherlands, a role set aside by the Dutch constitution for Amsterdam.

The Hague is the home of the States-General of the Netherlands. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands lives and works in The Hague. All foreign embassies and government ministries are located in the city, as well as the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (Supreme Court), the Raad van State (Council of State) and many lobbying organisations.

The Hague is also the de facto judicial capital of the United Nations, being the location of its primary judicial institutions.

Amsterdam is a unique place to visit and I have visited a number times since my first time, and each time I enjoy all the things that I do see.

“The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty. “--Proverbs 10:15

From my weekly column in the Farmington Press and other allied publications. Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on

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