Spotlight on Netherlands
Netherlands is a very big small country, and full of salutary surprises. The Netherlands is often called Holland, which is formally incorrect as North and South Holland are actually two of its twelve provinces. The word Dutch is used to refer to the people, the language, and anything pertaining to the Netherlands. A chief pleasure of the place is its lively contrast between pragmatic liberalism and the buttoned-up just-so primness of a culture founded on Calvinist principles. The Netherlands is easy to travel in and the locals are friendly and speak excellent English, but many towns are still surrounded by canals and castle walls, the endlessly flat landscape which inspired the nation's early artists still stretches unbroken to the horizons, and dykes still occasionally threaten to give way.
Amsterdam - Cosmopolitan Amsterdam is most famous for its narrow, gabled houses lining the canals. Interesting attractions include the medieval weighhouse, Royal Palace on Dam Square, and New Church. Its most glamorous industry is the diamond trade. Not too far from Amsterdam are the flower centers of Aalsmeer, the picturesque fishing villages of Volendam and Marken, cheese markets at Edam and Gouda, and historic Haarlem, the main center of the bulb-growing industry. Enjoy the city’s sights from a glass-topped sightseeing boat which passes characteristic gabled houses and negotiates picturesque arched bridges. Facing Dam Square, the Royal Palace was built in 1648 and is still officially the royal residence, although the royal family resides in The Hague. The marbled Citizens Hall with inlaid maps of the world is worth seeing. One of Amsterdam’s most visited sites is historic Anne Frank House. Rijksmuseum, the city’s most prestigious museum, houses the largest collection of Dutch paintings in the world. Van Gogh Museum houses a striking collection.
Haarlem - Everybody loves Haarlem, and it’s not hard to see why. This achingly pretty city of cobble-stone streets, historic buildings, grand churches, even grander museums, cosy bars, top-class restaurants, and antique shops is a sure-fire heart-warmer. It’s more than easy to visit as a day trip from Amsterdam, but as a place with so much on offer in such a compact area, you may find yourself turning the tables on the capital and using Haarlem as a base to explore the surrounds.
Rotterdam is the Dutch city with a difference. Located on the river Maas, it is one of the world’s top ports. An architectural and cultural metropolis with many attractions, festivals and museums. A vivacious, young urban culture and a superlative selection of shops, restaurants and cafes.
Utrecht - This surprising and friendly city boasts cultural and historical highlights. The city's ultimate symbol is the beautiful Dom Tower. In addition, Utrecht offers great shopping, contemporary convention and meeting venues, pleasant sidewalk cafes and all the ingredients for great clubbing.
Volendam, the old fishing village on the Ijsselmeer, boasts traditional costumes, water sports, music, and fish. The harbor backs onto numerous tiny cottages. Legend has it that the Volendam coat of arms is a compliment to the beauty of the Volendam girls. No wonder a famous singer sang the praise of this characteristic Dutch fishing village in the words: "Anyone who wants to see the real beauty of Holland, goes to Volendam". As a result of its completely insulated location, this village preserved its character for six centuries, also because of the tough vitality of the fishermen. The characteristic small houses, which together with canals and drawbridges form the most picturesque spots, present the visitor an atmosphere of geniality and romance. Visit the Volendam museum with the ’Sigarenbandjeshuis’, where cigar rings are on display.
Use the wCities link below to read more about cities!