Dating back to the 14th Century when sailors arrived in need of some female company, the district is full of sex shops, brothels, gay bars, cinemas, hotels and different kinds of museums. This infamous part of the city is a major tourist attraction. Each year, millions of visitors come to see this exciting part of Amsterdam. Although there is a lot of adult entertainment, it is much more then just a tourist attraction. This district of 300-year-old gabled buildings and expensive real estate houses doctors, lawyers and plenty of families.
The Rossebuurt, as the locals know it, is unlike any other place. Certainly, the Red Light District that everyone knows about is the one where women, of all nationalities, parade their wares in red-fringed window parlours, many ready to offer more than a school boy peep-show in a private cabin. Another familiar image of the Red Light District is of packs of men, young and old , couples holding hands, giggling groups of women celebrating a hen night , and busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras (except not in the direction of the female entertainers which is strictly banned).
Perhaps what few really notice is that the Rossebuurt (Dutch for ‘pink’ or ‘red’ neighbourhood) is in fact one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city with its long winding narrow, cobbled streets and utterly charming 14 th century architecture, Red Light District Amsterdamsuch as the gothic Oudekerk, or Old Church.
Amsterdam prides itself, and rightly so, on its wholly liberal and tolerant attitude, embracing the fact that people may be into prostitution, soft drugs and pornography-and this is only human. So instead of criminalizing everything, this very upfront city wears its heart on its sleeve-what you see is generally what you get. Enjoy the honesty of it all, as you won’t find it anywhere else.
Prostitution is legal in Holland, and in Amsterdam most of it is concentrated in the Red Light District where it has enjoyed a long tradition of tolerance. Since October 2000, window prostitutes have been allowed to legally offer their trade. Today, prostitutes in the Netherlands are also taxpayers. Unfortunately, discrimination is still very much part and parcel in this trade as many prostitutes report that some banks even refuse to grant mortgages for example. However, now as a legal profession, the government ensures that all prostitutes are able to access medical care and work in better conditions by regulating and monitoring working practices and standards. Also, contrary to popular belief, the RLD is actually the safest area in Amsterdam as clusters of policemen, and private bodyguards employed by the girls themselves are always on duty.
Condom shop Het Gulden Vlies
This shop is a kingdom of condoms. It has all colors, shapes, sizes and flavors. Some are even hand painted and are for decoration only. You can find a surprising amount of information and books about our rubber friend, and it even has a small condom museum.
During the day, the district is less lively and even less attractive as the more sordid aspects reveal themselves in natural daylight. Although there are women forever tapping on the windows even during the light hours, most of the action takes place around 11pm , when the district is swarming with crowds and the red neon lights illuminate the inky canals. The atmosphere pretty much thrives until around 2 or 3am when the crowds die down and businesses shut up shop.
Whether you are window-shopping, Amsterdam style, or actually wanting to buy something, there is likely to be a place, window, or even two, that cater to your every whim. For those not easily offended, there are plenty of live sex shows and the most notorious of these go on at the theatres Casa Rosa (OZ Achterburgwal) and the infamous Moulin Rouge (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 5-7). For the merely curious, there are numerous peep shows that may come with video booths. But of course, for the more adventurous among us, there are more interactive shows, for example at de Bananenbar (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 37). Exactly what goes on in these places is up to you to discover, if you so wish. The RLD is also home to many gay bars and cinemas which can be found on the very busy Warmoesstraat. If the Red light alleyways are not your cup of tea, there are a number of brothels and private houses that offer a more traditional form of prostitution.
It is a tolerant community where freedom is highly valued.