Amsterdam circa 1544, before the semi-circular ring of canals was added.
has a long and eventful history. The origins of the city lie in the 12th century, when fishermen living along the banks of the River Amstel built a bridge across the waterway near the IJ
, which at the time was a large saltwater inlet. Wooden locks under the bridge served as a dam protecting the village from the rising IJ waters, which often flooded the early settlement. The mouth of the river Amstel
, where the Damrak
is now, formed a natural harbor, which became important for trading-exchange from the larger koggeships
into the smaller ships that sailed the merchandise deeper into the hinterland.
The oldest document referring to the settlement of "Aemstelredamme" (Amsterdam) 'dam in the river Amstel' comes from a document dated 27 October 1275 CE. Inhabitants of the village were, by this document, exempted from paying a bridge toll
in the County of Holland by Count Floris V
. Read more...