The prostitutes, barely dressed in a glowing red glow and promoting business from their windows, are among the most iconic images of modern Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s Red Light District is referred to in the local dialect as “de Walletjes” (the little walls) and is centered around the Oude Kerk.
However, it extends to Warmoesstraat towards the west, the Zeedijk to the north, the Kloveniersburgwal to the east, and then down the lines of Damstraat towards the south.
Prostitution in Amsterdam began with the city’s beginnings as an important harbor in the early 13th century. In 1478, the practice was so widespread that efforts were made to control it. Prostitutes who strayed outside their area of responsibility were escorted back with the sound of drums and pipes.
After a century, after the Alteration following the Reformation, the Calvinists attempted to ban the practice of prostitution completely. They failed, however; by the 17th century, prostitution was accepted as a normal part of life. The year 1850 was the time Amsterdam was home to 200,000 people, and there were more than 200 brothels.
Today, the entire region is divided by a maze of narrow lanes dominated by glitzy sex shops, shady clubs, and people. In the evening, the tiny streets take on a more sinister appearance, and it’s not a good idea to venture off the main roads.
At night, crowds of tourists create a lively atmosphere, and in the bustle are intriguing bars, cafes, restaurants, and gorgeous canalside homes to discover.
The city council is working to make the city more culturally appealing by reducing the number of window prostitutes, closing the most vulgar clubs, and encouraging non-sex businesses.