Red Light District Travel Guide
  • Photo: Rostislav Glinsky / Shutterstock

Red Light District

Forming a rough triangle from Centraal Station bordered by Warmoesstraat, Damstraat, and Zeedijk, this famous district incorporates the two oldest canals in the city and its oldest building (the Oude Kerk). It has been an area for prostitution since the 15th century, but it's changing fast; the city has closed about a third of the coffeeshops and windows for prostitution. With more art and fashion for sale in the windows, Amsterdam is trying, perhaps, to convey a message more about buying the dress than the woman, though you can still see scantily clothed women posed in the red neon–framed windows, looking for customers. If you decide to take a stroll around de Wallen ("the walls," as the Red Light District is also called), early evening is optimal, before the louder, drunker hordes arrive. Remember, too, that this is the oldest part of town, and if you look beyond the garish advertising and the prostitutes, you'll see 14th-century architecture, winding alleyways, and pretty canals. Amsterdam's Chinatown borders the area.


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