As a key cultural and intellectual centre in western Europe, Amsterdam provides an ideal environment for academic study or work. Amsterdam attracts students from all over the Netherlands and beyond.

A big city with a cosy, small-scale feel

Amsterdam is a colourful and lively city. With some 800,000 inhabitants (as compared to London’s 7.5 million and Paris’s 10 million), it has all the advantages of a major metropolitan centre while retaining a cosy, small-scale feel. Amsterdam boasts beautiful architecture and over 150 lovely canals, lending the city its characteristic shape and atmosphere. It is full of museums, art galleries, theatres, concert halls, and many lovely parks, which serve as the inhabitants’ gardens in summer. The city is home to world famous music, opera, theatre and dance companies, as well as many internationally recognised visual artists.

History of the city

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, one of Europe’s smaller countries. The city is named after the river Amstel, which flows through its centre and was dammed by the region’s first inhabitants in 1275. Amsterdam expanded rapidly from the early thirteenth century onwards due to strong marine trade, and by 1500 it was the largest city in the Netherlands.
Because of Dutch society’s relatively tolerant attitude towards dissidents, Amsterdam attracted scholars and writers who wanted a level of freedom they could not find in their own countries. Dutch scholars, poets and artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Benedictus Spinoza, P.C. Hooft, Constantijn Huygens and his son Christiaan Huygens flourished during this period.

Amsterdam culture today

Intellectual and cultural curiosity have prevailed in the Netherlands since the Golden Age. The city is still know for its spirit of tolerance, which has made it a natural locus for international intellectual exchange. Every year big cultural events take place such as Kingsday, the Gay Pride, Amsterdam Dance Event and the Amsterdam Marathon.