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Amsterdam was built on water—it's the source of the city's wealth and cultural history. Before Centraal Station was built, the center of the city was open to the sea. International shipping routes ended here, sluicing bounty into the city via the Amstel and the man-made canals that loped around. Today, the area is experiencing a renaissance. With the massive development around the station
and landmark buildings going up east, west, and north across the water (North being the city's most populous but least glamorous district), a shiny new Amsterdam is being built on the waterfront.
Directly to the west of Centraal Station are the Westelijke Eilanden (Western Islands), which housed the heavy and polluting industries of the 17th century: shipbuilders, pickling factories, and smokehouses for fish. The old warehouses give this neighborhood a special "village within the city" feel. It borders one of the city's main green areas, the Westerpark, which runs parallel with the train lines coming out of Centraal Station. In the park, the Westergasfabriek is the place to go for funky international festivals, art cinema, clubbing and cafés, conferences, music, and experimental exhibits.
Forming an area of unparalleled historical beauty, the famous Grachtengordel, or Canal Ring, is located to the west and south of the city center...
Compared with many parts of the city, there's a gracious and spacious feel to the Plantage with wide boulevards, parks, and elegant 19th-century...