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Myths and Legends of Amsterdam

Of all of the cities in Europe Amsterdam has to have some of the most vivid and well-known myths and legends associated with it.

Which, considering it’s actually quite young compared to other western European cities, is even more fascinating.

So if you’re heading to this Dutch metropolis anytime soon and want to get to grips with its history and culture, here are some of the most famous myths and legends associated with the city.

The legend of the founding of Amsterdam

Even though the founding of Amsterdam is fairly recent by European standards, the known factors surrounding the event are still pretty hazy.

Cycling is very popular in the Dutch capital

Cycling is very popular in the Dutch capital

One of the most famous legends is that it was founded by two Frisian fisherman who, caught in a storm off of the coast of Holland, promised to found a city wherever they landed if they happened to survive the night.

The following morning the fisherman awoke in the mouth of the Amstel to clear blues skies and calm waters, and so Amsterdam was born.

In reality, the city probably has its origins in a tiny group of herring fishermen who settled on the shores of the river and then built up their homes and defences to protect themselves from hostile invaders.

The legend of the boy and the dike

Almost every school child has heard the story of the little boy who used his finger to plug the hole in the dike in order to save his native town.

The legend goes that this brave youngster stood with his finger blocking the hole for an entire night until the grown ups of the town found him and made the necessary repairs the dam.

Unfortunately, this legend is probably false as it’s little known in the Netherlands and is most likely to be an American folktale passed down by immigrants of Dutch descent. 

There are more bicycles in Amsterdam then there are residents

Everyone knows that the Dutch love cycle, and no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without taking a ride on two wheels around the backstreets and cobbled lanes of the city. 

In fact, the myth that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than residents is completely true with 880,000 bikes to a population of just 800,000.

This makes Amsterdam one of the most cycle friendly cities on earth and a must for anyone who likes to ride their bicycle.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono once spent an entire week in bed in an Amsterdam hotel

In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, John Lennon and Yoko Ono tried to give peace a chance by staging two week-long bed-ins, one in Montreal and the other in Amsterdam.

The event was designed to use the publicity generating by their recent wedding to promote world peace and also served as the couple’s honeymoon.

This event helped to give Amsterdam a peaceful and progressive image and is still one of the most iconic calls for peace of all time.

Clogs are still worn by some Dutch residents

Clogs are still worn by some Dutch residents

Everyone wears wooden shoes

Now, if you’ve ever worn wooden shoes you’ll know that they are not the most practical footwear for everyday life.

And although many Dutch people now favour modern shoes, a lot of farmers, gardeners and tradespeople still do wear the wooden clogs, 3 million of which are still made every year.

Amsterdam is full of myths and legends, and if you really want to find out what is true and what isn’t true, you’ll just have to make the trip to the Netherlands and explore Amsterdam for yourself. If you are looking to buy the lowest cost chauffeur car hire Amsterdam has available, click this link for further information.



Picture credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2


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