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De Wallen Red Light District Amsterdam

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 39, 1012 DA Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Visit De Wallen during the late afternoon for a quieter experience, before the crowds arrive, and consider joining one of the local storytelling tours to gain a deeper understanding of the area's history and current challenges. For a unique perspective, head to the Oudekerksplein, where you can enjoy a coffee in one of the cafés with views of the Oude Kerk, providing a contrasting atmosphere to the district's nightlife."

What is De Wallen (Red Light District)?

De Wallen, better known as the Red Light District, is one of Amsterdam's most famous and controversial areas, synonymous with legalized prostitution, liberal attitudes, and neon-lit windows. Nestled in the oldest part of the city, it's where the nightlife is vibrant and the history runs deep. It's not just about the adult entertainment; the district is also dotted with a diverse array of bars, restaurants, and even historic buildings that add to its unique character.

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The Red Light District is a unique blend of the past and present, where cobblestone streets meet modern-day vices. It's a place that challenges norms and invites curiosity, drawing in visitors from around the globe. Whether you're interested in exploring adult-oriented attractions or the rich history of the area, De Wallen has a multifaceted appeal that goes beyond the surface.

History of De Wallen (Red Light District)

The history of De Wallen can be traced back to the 14th century when sailors arriving in Amsterdam sought entertainment and companionship in this part of the city. By the 17th century, during Amsterdam's Golden Age, the district had already gained a reputation for its brothels and taverns, becoming an entertainment hub for visiting sailors and traders.

Despite various attempts by the authorities to regulate or shut down such activities, the district thrived. It wasn't until the end of the 20th century that the Dutch government began to formalize the industry, taking steps towards legalizing and regulating prostitution as a legitimate career.

Today, De Wallen is more than just a center for the sex industry—it's a historical district where the architecture and narrow alleys tell the stories of Amsterdam's maritime history, its tolerance, and its openness to diverse lifestyles.

Why is De Wallen (Red Light District) Important?

De Wallen's significance lies in its embodiment of Dutch liberalism and tolerance. It serves as a potent symbol of Amsterdam's unorthodox approaches to various social issues, including sex work. The district is important because it represents a successful model of how the country has managed to create a safe and controlled environment for an industry that is often stigmatized and pushed underground elsewhere.

Moreover, it challenges visitors to think about social norms and the concept of legality in different cultures. De Wallen is also an important contributor to Amsterdam's economy, as the tourism it generates helps to support not just the workers within the industry, but also local businesses surrounding it.

Furthermore, the district's rich historical tapestry means it's a treasure trove for anyone interested in the social and urban development of Amsterdam. De Wallen offers an uncensored peek into human sociology, juxtaposed with the city's history and evolving regulations.

Things to Do & See at De Wallen (Red Light District)

Visiting De Wallen, you'll find that there's much to discover beyond its infamous window brothels. Take a stroll through the cobbled lanes and you'll encounter charming boutiques, traditional Dutch pubs, and eateries serving a wide variety of cuisines. Here, every step reveals another layer of this district's complexity.

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  • Explore the Oude Kerk: This old church is Amsterdam's oldest building, juxtaposing the sacred with the profane, standing proud amid the district's red-lit windows.
  • Visit a Coffee Shop: Experience the famous Dutch coffee shops that sell more than just coffee and offer a relaxed atmosphere to their clientele.
  • Museum of Prostitution – Red Light Secrets: Gain insights into the life of a sex worker and learn about the history of prostitution in Amsterdam in a former brothel.
  • Art Galleries: Numerous art galleries showcase work from local and international artists, often pushing the envelope with avant-garde exhibitions.
  • Evening Walk: Take an evening walk to experience the alluring neon glow and the vibrant nocturnal atmosphere that are central to the district's identity.
  • Take a Canal Cruise: The district looks different from the water, offering a serene contrast to the bustling streets.

The sheer variety of experiences in De Wallen ensures that it has something for every curious visitor. The best way to see the Red Light District is on foot, with an open mind and a keen eye. You'll find that the area's energy is infectious, its stories enthralling, and its history far richer than you might have anticipated. But remember, while photography of the illuminated streets is a popular pursuit, taking photos of the workers in the windows is strictly forbidden and considered very disrespectful.

Frequently asked questions

What is De Wallen also known as the Red Light District?

De Wallen is the largest and best-known red-light district in Amsterdam and a major tourist attraction. It is known for its legal brothels, which are typically under the red neon lights that hang in the windows.

Is it safe to walk around De Wallen?

Yes, it is generally safe to walk around De Wallen. However, like any busy urban area, visitors should be aware of their surroundings and take usual precautions to safeguard their possessions.

Can I take photos in De Wallen?

Photography of the workers in the windows is strictly prohibited, and this is enforced by onsite security. However, you may take photos of the district's streets and canals.

Are there guided tours available for De Wallen?

Yes, there are guided tours which can provide informative context about the area's history and the current situation regarding the sex industry in Amsterdam.

What are the opening hours of De Wallen?

De Wallen is an urban district open 24/7. However, the opening hours of businesses and attractions in the area vary, with many bars, clubs, and other venues being open late into the night.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 39, 1012 DA Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps