Amsterdam and the Red Light District
Amsterdam is a city with many popular tourist destinations. Just about everything from beautiful cityscape and architecture to designer retail and fashion are tourist favorites of the city. The tourism attractions are just about endless when in the same day you can float in a paddle boat in the Prinsengracht Canal enjoying the stunning architecture of the buildings on the river front and then later in the night shopping and partying at many famous bars and restaurants at the Red Light District. Although this would seem to be the perfect combination of both good clean fun and a late nighters dream, this vast array of entertainment is exactly what many view as the downfall to the city. More than anywhere else in the city the Red Light District is constantly under vicious scrutiny. A local of the town, Jan Captain, says that “from brothels to sex shops, The Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination” (Captain). Author of the article entitled Red Light District in Amsterdam; Captain voices her opinion of the controversial part of the city through first hand experiences as well as through detailed research. Without a doubt, Captain has many dislikes of what specifically goes on at the RLD, but the main argument she has is that the RLD takes tourists away from everything else that the city has to offer. The history of the city is very apparent with beautiful buildings such as the Church of St. Nicholas and especially the Anne Frank House. These types of attractions should be the main interest of tourists to any city new to them, but unfortunately it is not. I definitely 2
understand why Captain would be upset with what is going on in the city, and I agree with the fact that people should look past the prostitution and sex shops to get a true idea of what Amsterdam is all about. Humans in general, tend to be drawn to the appeal of the more unholy, if you will things in life. Are these actions uncontrolled decisions deriving from human nature, or just simply bad decisions? Regardless of the root of evil, the Red Light District seems to capitalize on all accounts of sinful acts. Captain goes on to point out other overlooked parts of the city by saying, “perhaps what few really notice is that the Rossebuurt (Dutch for ‘pink’ or ‘red’ neighborhood) is in fact one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city with its long winding narrow, cobbled streets and utterly 14th century architecture, such as the gothic Oudekerk, or Old Church” (Captain). Buildings like the Oudekerk are extremely aesthetically pleasing as well as historically rare to be in such good condition in the 21st Century. This one example does not even scratch the surface on just how plentiful buildings of this nature are in Amsterdam. The list goes on with magnificent structures such as Rijksmusuem Amsterdam, the Statue in the Vondelpark, Keizersgracht, Zuiderkerk, the Royal Palace, and one of the most visited attraction in Amsterdam, the ING House. Anyone that visits Amsterdam should take more time to really appreciate all aspects of the town and not just the Red Light District. Captain obviously does a very good job of showing the reader that visitors of Amsterdam are missing out on the “entire” experience that the city has to offer, and she goes on to continue to talk about exactly why she has a negative opinion of the Red Light District. She takes the liberty to help visitors of Amsterdam by stating that “To make sure you get the best out of the Red Light District and that it doesn’t get the worse out of you, stick to these tips closely” 3
(Captain). She goes on to give five tips, the fifth basically summing up her overall feelings about the RLD coming from the perspective of someone who takes pride in her hometown and doesn’t want people to think that this is how everyone acts in Amsterdam. She states, “Don’t visit the Red Light District first otherwise you may get the wrong idea about the Dutch...
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