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Red light district
The ‘Amsterdamse Wallen’
The most famous Red-light district of the Netherlands is situated on the ‘Amsterdamse Wallen’. The ‘Wallen’ are streets which used to be ramparts which defended the city a long time ago. Today these streets form a distinct part of the city. The ‘Amsterdamse Wallen’ is an area which consists of the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and what is now called the Spuistraat but used to be the Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal. Together these streets form the oldest part of Amsterdam. In the middle of the ‘Wallen’ and the Redlight District lies the ‘Oude Kerk’ (Old Church) which dates back to the 13th century and is the oldest standing building in Amsterdam.
But what is it that makes the redlight district in Amsterdam so appealing for so many people in the Netherlands and around the world?
The redlightdistrict has a reputation of a part of the city where everything go’s. This attractive place for tourists has a mix of window-prostitution, relaxing coffee-shops, great pubs, peepshows, beautiful cocktail-bars, sex-shops and striptease bars. You can find a great mix of different kinds of people, local as well as tourists from all over the world, who make the streets lively all the time. There are a lot of things to see and do in the redlightdistrict. You can pay a visit to the well known Cassa Rosso which is easily recognizable do to the pink elephant on the front of the building and the fountain in the shape of a penis in front of the door. In this sex-theater you can enjoy a range of erotic shows. A few doors down you will find the Bananenbar (Bananabar). In this bar which consists of two levels, you will be served by ladies with very few clothes on and who (for extra money) can pole-dance, give you a lap-dance or do erotic acts for you with a banana. Take it from us that these girls will amaze you with the places they put these bananas. As regards to coffee-shops, some of the better known are the Bulldog, Grasshopper and Greenhouse.
In spite of all the different attractions of the neighborhood it is of course best known for the window-prostitution. When the phenomenon exactly started in the area nobody knows for sure. What we do know due to research of old official documents is that already in 1413 there were rules made by rulers of the city regarding prostitution in this district. And since that time the thought of this particular neighborhood without these special women is unthinkable.
Besides the Red-light district in the Wallen area, there are also two other areas with window-prostitution in Amsterdam. The first is on and around the Ruysdaelkade in the neighborhood called the Pijp, and the second is on and around the Singel canal, not too far from the Wallen.
Prostitution legislation has a long history in the Netherlands as well as Amsterdam. The laws considering brothels, window-prostitution, soliciting areas and escort services have changed many times through the years. As we speak the municipal officials of Amsterdam are working on a change of the prostitution policies. This project is called 1012 and involves the closing of 184 of the 477 windows available to the women. By doing this the city officials make the area where the prostitution takes place much smaller, and only a few streets will be left. The municipal officials say by doing this they hope to fight crime and stop the deterioration of the neighborhood. Of course not everybody agrees with these policies. According to a lot of residents and local businesspeople it will ruin the distinguishing tolerant character of one of the most famous and most beautiful areas of the city known all over the world.
Safety in the RedLight District
Due to the distinctive character of this area, people often believe the Redlight District must be an unsafe place. But thanks to measures taken by the city officials regarding safety in the ‘Wallen’ area, like 24 hour camera surveillance on every corner, visible and undercover police officers, this is no longer considered an unsafe area. There are always people in the streets which gives a safe feeling. You are able to walk around in the neighborhood without worrying that something is going to happen. No extra attention is needed in comparison to other neighborhoods.