Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. The city is popularly called Mokum and is located in the province of North Holland. The municipality of Amsterdam has the largest population in the Netherlands with more than 850,000 inhabitants. The name Amsterdam comes from its location near a dam built in the 13th century in the river Amstel. Shortly after 1300, Amsterdam was granted city rights and in the Golden Age the city grew into one of the most important trading and port cities in the world.
Amsterdam is known for its unique canals. Since 2010, the 17th-century canal belt with main canals (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengrachten and Singel) has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. From the beginning, the natural and dug waterways have played an important role in transport and water management. A characteristic of the Amsterdam canals is that they are dug waterways, in contrast to natural waterways such as the Amstel and the IJ. Nowadays the canals have an important function in shipping traffic, especially for tourist purposes.
Amsterdam has more than 1500 bridges. Because until the middle of the 19th century the role of water was more important than that of land. Over the course of history, the number of bridges has increased constantly. In the 16th century Amsterdam had 52 bridges, in 1600 110 bridges and in the 17th century the number of bridges rose to 267. Today, the city has 1539 bridges, 252 of which are located in the city centre. The very first bridges in Amsterdam were made of wood and had been built purely from a functional point of view, an example of a wooden bridge in the Magere Brug. Subsequently, bridges made of iron, stone or concrete were built.