The site of the Royal Palace, Dam Square, is often the focus of events of national importance, such as the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National Monument to remember those who lost their lives during World War II.
World War II memorial monument on Dam Square, Amsterdam
Funfairs are held on the square several times a year, as well as concerts, sports events, and used book sales.
Living statues and other buskers usually populate the square. Protests are occasionally held here.
Many people feel that Dam Square itself doesn’t have the allure and ambience of other big city squares. Despite a recent redesign, the square’s distinctive cobblestones have been replaced by, well, other distinctive cobblestones, creating a challenge for those wearing high heels, among others.
Street furniture lacks inspiration and is out of place.
In my opinion, the square needs a fountain or two, and some color: perhaps more trees. And while we’re at it, some affordable places to eat and drink.
The Dam is the beating heart of Amsterdam, so if you miss it, you haven’t really seen it.
Dam Square attractions
Palace of the Royals
Completed in 1655, this neoclassical building was referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World; step inside to see why. On the outside, the once white sandstone facade has become grey/brownish over the centuries. But within lies opulent beauty – a definite must-see. It started life as Amsterdam’s City Hall before being re-purposed as a palace by Napoleon’s brother in 1808.
The New Church (Neue Kerk)
Coronations and weddings are held here, as well as art exhibitions, but church services are not held here.
Monuments of national significance
Visitor wonders why people can sit all around the monument, but the Dutch government says it’s just a reflection of our freedom.
If you do visit this branch of the famous wax museum in Amsterdam, you’ll be treated to a great panoramic view of Dam Square and Damrak from the round picture window at the top floor.
Several other monumental buildings, cafes, and shops can also be found here.
The ugly building next to Bijenkorf is an office complex designed by Cees Dam, who designed the Stopera, a combined city hall/opera building, as well as the Options Exchange building at Rokin.
Amsterdam Dam Square’s Royal Palace and New Church
There is one thing these buildings have in common: they are ugly, especially since they are out of context with neighbouring buildings. In our opinion, people who design these types of projects in those kinds of settings, and those who allow them to be built, hate Amsterdam.
At Dam Square, there are lots of things to do
As you roam the streets of Amsterdam, you will undoubtedly witness a kaleidoscope of people from all corners of the globe. Giggling school girls here, impassioned lunchtime executives there; spiky-haired youth who have embraced punk and well-dressed women parading in real or faux fur coats. From evangelical preachers to tourists, all sorts of personages are present in this city of over 170 nationalities — so see how many you can spot!
The monument is a great place to sit
In the late Sixties Amsterdam was a hotspot for hippies, who flocked to Vondelpark for their famous love-ins and generally congregated at the Dam. ‘Damslapers’ even chose to sleep there overnight. In August 1970, however, a city ordinance put an end to this practice due to the disruption caused by the hippies and also in response to locals wishing to show greater respect towards the war monument. An alternative was created in the form of two Sleep-ins – dorms which could be used for overnight stays at minimal cost. In time sitting (not sleeping) around the monument became accepted as a sign of Amsterdam’s spirit of freedom.
Take a look at the buskers
I personally don’t like the living statues, but if there’s a busker across from Madame Tussauds on the palace side, you’re in for a treat
Visit a store
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride
You can often find horse-drawn carriages in front of the palace, close to the New Church. Tours are available through the Old City, along the Canals, through the Red Light District, and through the Jordaan neighborhood. A carriage can also be booked by hotels in the city center instead of a taxi. A 20 minute tour will cost €35, while a 60 minute tour will cost €85. There is a maximum of four people per carriage.
Convert or be prayed for
In Dam square, different denominations – and sometimes religious cults – offer free prayers. A mission organization has performed drama skits with an evangelistic theme.
Put on a giant wooden shoe
Tourists line up outside Dam Square Souvenirs to take pictures of each other in a giant yellow clog
Many tourists feel obliged to feed the disease-ridden birds in their European squares, oblivious to their nuisance nature.
Meanwhile, the city is actively attempting to reduce the pigeon population. Among the approaches: sterilizing them with genetically-modified food, replacing their eggs with fake ones, and stationing a hawk on top of one of the buildings at the square.
What is the location of the dam?
Amsterdam is sometimes referred to as Dam Square, and a dam in the Amstel is the source of its name. However, that is not quite true. Read Was Amsterdam named after a dam in the river Amstel? (the article includes an annotated, 1544 map of Amsterdam to understand why not.)
It is true that there was once a dam at what is now Dam Square. But don’t bother looking for it today. It hasn’t been there for centuries. The dam — a wide bridge with wooden doors to stop water flowing during high tide — was located roughly between where you currently see the National Monument and the busy Damrak/Rokin thoroughfare.
The river Amstel still feeds the remaining cul-de-sac of water at Damrak near Central Station through a culvert deep beneath the cobblestones.
Dam Square shops
This warehouse covers 20.000 square meters. It has everything from groceries to diamonds, as well as books and newspapers to high fashion. Shopping at this warehouse isn’t cheap, to say the least. Just walking through the building makes you feel rich and important — it’s gorgeous and opulently designed.
Peek & Cloppenburg, a now international German brand located in several countries, has its flagship fashion department store housed in an impressive neo-Classical style building dating back to April 17, 1916. Despite being originally perceived as “dull and lifeless,” it is today known as a national monument. Locals are fond of referring to it as the “Trouser Palace” due to its 14 gable stones that represent the former houses and businesses that used to occupy this area prior to the construction of P&C.
Dam 4 by H&M
Hennes & Mauritz’s Amsterdam flagship store can be found in the former ABN-Amro bank building. This spot has gone through various incarnations and reconstructions through the years, but it has now been restored to include its original turret, prominent at the corner of Dam Square and Nieuwendijk. Although ABN Amro still maintains a presence at the Damrak corner, H&M occupies the rest.
Souvenirs from Dam Square – Dam 17-19
You know what to expect: a huge collection of souvenirs — including wooden shoes (many of which cover a large portion of the ceiling). You probably don’t expect life-sized cows hanging upside-down from the ceiling in the “100% Holland” area. Yes, you can take photos there
Dam Square Cafes, Pubs, and Eateries
Amsterdam’s new cafe
The Nieuwe Kafé overlooks Dam Square
This photo is licensed under DutchAmsterdam.nl. Would you like to use it?
Eggerstraat 8, ‘t Nieuwe Kafé
An excellent view of Dam Square from the terrace of a building adjacent to the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). Known for its excellent service and reasonable prices. It caters to tourists and locals alike. Great coffee, breakfast baskets, sandwiches, and pastries. Recommended by DutchAmsterdam.nl.
The Majestic/Euro Pub – Dam 3-7
A very tourist-oriented café/eatery with great views of Dam Square at the monument side. Good food, coffee, and beer, but sky-high prices. Mostly avoided by locals, but always crowded nevertheless.
Dam 11 – Yip Fellows
Next to Hotel Krasnapolsky. Tiny terrace. Expensive. Owned by the folks who own Majestic.
Located at Dam 15, corner Damstraat
A good place with friendly staff. Small terrace. Pricey. Operated by the same people who own Majestic.
Dam 10 Coffee Company
The quality of the coffee – or something resembling the coffee drink you asked for – greatly depends on who is working. Small terrace has a view of Dam Square.
If you’re a discerning visitor, you’ll probably skip Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. The same goes for Tours & Tickets.
In the Nieuwendijk shopping street (between the New Church and Damrak), after just a few steps, you’ll find McDonald’s, Burger King, a pizza place, and the Dutch favorite, Febo.
Dam Square restaurants
The Bijenkorf Kitchen is located on the top floor of the Bijenkorf warehouse.
This is technically not at Dam Square, but it is listed because Bijenkorf has an entrance there. It’s one of Europe’s largest warehouse restaurants. Johannes van Dam, Amsterdam’s top food critic, disapproved twice. Other reviews have been mixed. There is only a limited view of the old stock market from the small outdoor terrace. The food is somewhat pricey, especially given its average quality. Self-service.
A reference sheet
A top-notch dining experience inside Hotel Krasnapolsky. Established in 1885 as “De Witte Kamer” (The White Room), Reflet is the oldest original restaurant in Amsterdam. Menus range from 4-6 courses, or you can order a la carte. Classic French and Dutch cuisine. Average menu prices are around EUR 50. Fantastic ambiance without a hint of Dam Square’s hustle and bustle.
Dam Square hotels
Here is a list of hotels at or near Dam Square. [View them on a map] Although Dam Square is easily reachable from just about anywhere in downtown Amsterdam and its surrounding suburbs, many tourists prefer to stay there.
There is only one hotel at Dam Square, the 5-star NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky
The best way to get to Dam Square
You can walk to Dam Square from Central Station via Damrak, which the City would like to turn into a red carpet.
In addition, you can take trams 4, 9, 16, 24, or 25 and exit at the first stop across from the Bijenkorf warehouse.
From Dam square, Damrak turns into Rokin, the main thoroughfare between Dam and Munt.
The Nieuwendijk shopping street, which feeds into Dam Square in front of the palace, is also a convenient way to reach the Dam if you prefer.
Between the Dam and Munt squares, Kalverstraat runs across the square from Nieuwendijk.
Alternatively, you can take Rokin if you’re coming from Munt square, or going there. Rokin has stores, pubs, and some very nice buildings.
One of the most iconic and bustling landmarks in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, is Dam Square, a vibrant and historic square located in the city’s heart. In addition to being surrounded by significant landmarks and attractions, Dam Square holds significant historical, cultural, and social significance.
The square’s name refers to its origins as a dam on the Amstel River, which played a crucial role in the city’s development.
The Royal Palace, also known as the Koninklijk Paleis, is one of Dam Square’s most prominent features. In the 17th century, the palace was constructed as the city hall, but later as the royal residence. It is a popular tourist attraction because of its impressive architecture and opulent interiors. Although the palace is mainly used for official events and ceremonies, parts of it are available for public tours.
Even though the church’s name dates back to the 15th century, it is primarily used for exhibitions, concerts, and coronations, rather than regular religious services. The Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church, is located adjacent to the Royal Palace. Visitors can also find a variety of exhibitions and artifacts in the Amsterdam History Museum, which explores the city’s rich history.
There is also the National Monument on Dam Square, a white stone obelisk erected in 1956 to commemorate the victims of World War II. It is used for ceremonies and events throughout the year.
Many street performers, musicians, and artists perform in and around the square, which is a lively and bustling place. There are many cafes and restaurants surrounding the square, so visitors can enjoy its vibrant atmosphere, relax on the benches, or grab a bite to eat. There are also many shops, boutiques, and department stores in the area that offer great shopping opportunities.
It is easily accessible and serves as a starting point for exploring Amsterdam’s many attractions and neighborhoods. Several tram lines pass through Dam Square, and there are numerous bus stops nearby.
In addition to the famous King’s Day celebrations in April, New Year’s Eve festivities, and outdoor concerts during the summer months, Dam Square hosts several cultural events throughout the year.
In summary, Dam Square is a bustling and historically significant square in the heart of Amsterdam. Locals and visitors alike appreciate its iconic landmarks, vibrant atmosphere, and central location, which serve as a focal point for the rich history, cultural offerings, and lively atmosphere of the city.