A Little History Lesson

It was a rainy day again, so we decided to stay closer to home today, inside museums while the weather was bad. The nearest museum is the Amsterdam Historical Museum, so we started there.

The Amsterdams Historisch Museum has exhibits that trace the medieval development of the city, which was originally a walled city and one of the major ports in europe (if not THE major port in europe) at a time that the Dutch ruled world trade. Here’s a map of the city showing what it looked like back in the 1600s (north is at the bottom):

We really enjoyed the History Museum. It was very informative about life in the medieval age and the importance of religion and the guilds. Most of the guilds were trade organizations, like the weavers, the blacksmiths, and so on, but there were also military guilds, like the crossbow and longbow guilds, made up of men that formed the milita that protected the city.

I thought that a “longbow” was like our bow and arrows type bow, but it’s not. It’s more like a crossbow, but longer. And it shoots accurately for almost 1/4 mile! Here’s what they look like:

After the History Museum, we walked along the canals while the rain abated, through an area call the Jordaan. This area is supposed to offer the more picturesque and romantic canal views.

The boats in the canals are as interesting as the bicycles. And, like bikes, people chain their boats so they can’t be stolen. Take a look at this cool all-aluminum boat (notice the thick cable looped through the wheel and used to lock the boat to the seawall):

In the History Museum, we learned that the center of old Amsterdam was an area call “De Dam,” literally, the dam, where the Amstel River was first dammed in the 1300s. This area became the focal point of the early city and our next stop for the day.

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