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Amsterdam in 1538

This is the oldest city map of Amsterdam. It was created in 1538 by Cornelis Anthoniszoon. In 1544 he produced a woodcut based on this painting.


As was the custom at the time, the city is depicted as seen from the IJ looking South.


Damrak, the wide waterway in the middle of the painting, leads to what is now known as Dam Square. This is where early settlers build a dam in the river Amstel -- thereby giving Amsterdam its name, and laying the foundation for its evolution from a fishing village to a major trading port in medieval times.


Beyond Dam Square lies what is now known at Rokin. The Damrak-Rokin traject separate the so-called 'Old Side' from the 'New Side'


A moat, the Singel, surrounded the city -- outside the city wall with its towers and gates -- from 1480 till 1585, when Amsterdam again expanded. To the East, here shown on the left, the moat was named Kloverniersburgwal. From what is now Niewmarkt (where to-date the structure seen on this map still stands) to the harbor it was named Geldersekade.


Most of Damrak and Rokin were eventually filled in, and now form main thoroughfairs into the city. The Singel still exists, now as the inner-most canal in Amsterdam's semicircular ring of canals.


-- This illustration is in the Public Domain

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Taken on October 22, 2005