Red Light District

DESTINATIONS netherlands amsterdam red-light-district

Forming a rough triangle from Centraal Station bordered by Warmoesstraat, Damstraat, and Zeedijk, this famous district incorporates the two oldest canals in the city and its oldest building (the Oude Kerk). It has been an area for prostitution since the 14th century, but it's changing fast, as the city has closed about a third of the coffeeshops and windows for prostitution. With more art and fashion for sale in the windows, the city is trying to convey a message more about buying the dress than the woman, though you can still wander through and see scantily clothed women posed in the red neon–framed windows, looking for customers. If you decide to take a stroll around de Wallen ("the walls," as the Red Light District is also called), early evening is optimal, before the louder, drunker hordes arrive. Remember, too, that this is the oldest and once the poshest part of town, and if you look beyond the garish advertising and the women, and you'll notice some very pretty buildings indeed. This is also where you'll find Amsterdam's Chinatown.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Bananenbar

Since the 1970s, this bar has featured naked barmaids doing exotic erotic "performances" involving the namesake fruit. It and the…

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St. Nicolaaskerk

The architect A. C. Bleys designed this church with its dark and eerie interior as a replacement for all the clandestine…

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Warmoesstraat

This rather touristy strip of hostels, bars, and coffeeshops began life as one of the original dikes along the Amstel.…

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