The Dam is now a large plaza and crossroads for the trams, although in the 1300s through the 1700s it was the trade and governmental center of the city. Even though it was a rainy day, there were still crowds of people milling about.
The building in the background, above, is the Royal Palace where the queen lives. Napoleon lived here in the early 1800s when the French conquered most of europe. It was closed by the time we got to the Dam, so we weren’t able to tour it; maybe another day since it’s only about 1/4 mile from our apartment.
Turning and looking the other way, you can see the National Monument – really nothing to write home about, although I am doing just that. The Monument was erected after WWII to commemorate the city’s endurance while occupied by the Germans, but the guide books say that the Dutch people were disappointed with the Monument when it was unveiled, and it is pretty drab.
In fact, we were more interested in the street cleaner that was plowing right through the crowds, cleaning the plaza. The trams do this too! The train tracks run right through the plazas and streets and the conductors seem to have the attitude that in a collision, the pedestrians will be the losers.
On the north side of the Dam is the Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church. “New” is a relative term here in europe. This “New” Church was opened in 1408, although it’s been destroyed by fire twice since then. The Nieuwe Kerk is no longer used for religious services.