Dam Square and the National Monument
Dam Square is at the very heart of Amsterdam. The National Monument is right in the middle of this vast square that buzzes with activity all year round. In spring, the fun fair attracts locals and tourists with its Ferris wheel. In summer, street entertainers and buskers mix with horse-drawn carts. In winter, Amsterdammers and visitors feed the hungry pigeons. Join the crowd, sit at the foot of the National Monument and listen to the carillon of the Royal Palace that peals out folk songs and pop music. Dam Square is without doubt the most famous square in Amsterdam.
Dam Square and Royal Palace
Right in the middle of Dam Square the National Monument stands 21-metre high. This tall white stone obelisk commemorates the victims of World War II both in the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies. Suffering figures adorn the bottom of the monument. Along the back are the crests of the Dutch provinces, bordered by the dates 1940-1945. Each year the King, veterans and many others lay wreaths in commemoration of those who died in service of their country.
The monument was erected in 1956. In the 1960s it was a popular place for hippies who bundled up in sleeping bags and spent the night and most of the day at Dam Square. In 1970 the marines chased them away forever and tourists adopted the place as their meeting point.
Dam Square and the National Monument is the ideal place to wait for your friends, see other tourists and locals. If you would like to see what Dam Square looked like at the end of 19th century, go to the Rijksmuseum and check out Breitner’s painting of Dam Square. He painted it between 1895 and 1898. You will see that Dam square has not changed that much and you are sure to recognize the square itself and the surrounding buildings surrounding.
George Hendrik Breitner – View of Dam Square 1895-1898
Photo credit: Marianne Crone & Albert van den Boomen