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The History Of The Red Light District In Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Red Light District is the most popular area amongst tourists and is located in the oldest part of the city. As well as the many cultural attractions, the location is steeped in history dating back as far as the 1200s. Located in the city’s centre, De Wallen has become a major draw for tourists both for its unique hospitality and 800-year history. In this blog, we will uncover the deep-rooted history of the Red Light District before you visit.

De Wallen

Fun fact, the Dutch locals do not refer to this area as the Red Light District, instead, they associate it with De Wallen which means the wall. Dating back as far as the 13th Century is known to be Amsterdam’s oldest and largest area. This medieval town first emerged in 1270 after the bridge was built to connect the city’s island for international trade.

Fishery brought in lots of financial gain in the beginning years and as time progressed shipping of timber and trades from the Far East delivery spices such as cinnamon, pepper, and cloves as well as tea and coffee which brought in lots of money. The city stored all the produces in the now famous warehouses, which were the living quarters of the traders. One can see these houses at the Brouwersgracht for instance. They are recognisable by their characteristic wooden hatches at the front.

Historic Building

For the budding history enthusiasts out there, visiting the Red Light District is highly recommended. The city’s oldest dwelling is located in Warmoesstraat number 90. The architecture dates back as far as the 18th century, studies also claim that could be even earlier than this, the building was probably established in 1485. Oude Kerk, Old Church is one of Amsterdam’s oldest churches and sits in the heart of the Red Light District.

The wooden chapel dates back as far as 1213, and still today, during the weekends, you can climb the church tower on a guided tower. Trompettersteeg is Amsterdam’s narrowest and oldest street, you can’t even walk side by side – a must experience.

Sex Work

Sex work has always been present in the Red Light District, but still to this day has been a subject of debate between acceptance and persecution. Initially, sex work was frowned upon amongst the locals in the area. The Dutch Revolt in 1578 new leadership in the Netherlands outlawed the practice. Today, sex work still operates however this time is in a safe manner for the workers.

Mariska Majoor set up PIC (Prostitution Information Centre) for people to learn and enquire about the local ours, laws and information regarding the role of a sex worker. This is to help reduce stigma about the profession and provide assistance.

For excellent accommodation offering flexibility and space that is unrivalled by a traditional hotel, choose PREMIER SUITES PLUS Amsterdam for your next trip. To enjoy our best available rates, make sure you book directly with the hotel via our website or our friendly staff.


Learn all about PREMIER SUITES and discover things to do and see near our fantastic city centre locations.

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