Amsterdam is not merely the city of garish sin, of anything-goes libertinism. A history of tolerance that permits institutions offensive to conservative sensibilities—soft drug use and a legalized sex trade—also includes a pervasive, progressive tradition of a different sort.
Travel Guide – Amsterdam
Long before coffeeshops dotted the cityscape, Amsterdam in particular, and The Netherlands in general, was a haven for refugees seeking asylum from varied persecution.
From Portuguese Jews in the early 17th century to Surinamese escaping military dictatorship in the 1980s, Amsterdam has welcomed and respected many immigrant communities, giving the country a cultural richness that offests the sometime seediness of pervasive drug tourism. The same culture of openness has allowed the gay and lesbian community to flourish, giving a certain dose of vibrancy that might otherwise remain absent in this supremely amiable city.
Yet as easy and free as its liberal policies seem, Amsterdam has seen its fair share of struggles. In years past, Amsterdammers fought for their city, saving it from sinking into the swamps and succumbing under the tides by sheer stubbornness. The 16th-century Alteration denied Catholics the right to practice their religion. During World War II tolerance was quite literally attacked on Dutch home soil, as Nazi forces occupied the city and deported its Jewish citizens to concentration camps.
Accordingly, the city has sometimes doubted its openness, but it still patiently receives temporary guests: eagerly experimenting youth, pot pilgrims, businesspeople, drunken stag parties, art aficionados, and history buffs. And though Amsterdam cannot be reduced to the description of rampant liberal tolerance, it is partially a place for indulging desires, a place with limitless possibilities, where anything goes. Just remember that a Golden Age of art flourished here, and here art remains in many forms—Rembrandt’s shadowy portraiture and Vermeer’s luminous women, the post-Impressionist swirls of van Gogh’s brush and the clean, sharp lines of Mondrian’s squares. They serve as a reminder that the best trip to Amsterdam isn’t necessarily the one you won’t remember.Research : - amsterdam city -