Amsterdam: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Amsterdam.

  • Amsterdam is the capital and largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of about 1,500,000. The city was named for a dam built on the River Amstel.
  • The city was founded in the early 14th century, and by the 17th century it was the richest city in the world. Today, it is twinned with over 12 cities, including Manchester, Moscow and Beijing.

  • Amsterdam is home to the world’s oldest stock exchange, dating from 1602.
  • The city’s oldest building is the Old Church, built in the early 14th century.
  • Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world with about 400 km of bike paths. There are about 1,200,000 bicycles in the city, of which 80,000 are stolen every year.
  • Amsterdam is famous for its canals, with almost 170 of them, crossed by over 1,200 bridges. There are also an estimated 2,500 houseboats moored on the city’s canals.
  • Most of the city is below sea level and it would be the first major city to be flooded if sea level rose slightly. The city’s airport is about 4 metres below sea level.
  • Almost every building in Amsterdam is built on long wooden poles driven into the swampy ground, some of which can still be seen. The Royal Palace was built on over 13,000 poles.
  • Amsterdam was one of the first large cities to allow same sex marriages, in 2001.
  • It is one of the top 25 safest large cities in the world.
  • The city’s Van Gogh Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of the Vincent van Gogh‘s paintings.
  • Amsterdam’s huge Rijksmuseum has more than a million works of art in it.
  • Amsterdam has been a major diamond centre for about 400 years, and diamond workshop tours are popular. The famous and valuable Kohinoor diamond of India was cut in the city.

Vincent van Gogh: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Vincent van Gogh, the famous post-impressionist painter.

  • Vincent van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, a village in the Netherlands, on 30th March 1853.
  • His parents were Theodorus van Gogh, a Dutch Reformed Church minister, and Anna Carbentus.

  • Van Gogh had two brothers, Theo and Cor, and three sisters, Elisabeth, Anna and Willemina.
  • Van Gogh started to work on drawings from an early age. At Willem II College, a middle school, Van Gogh was taught art by Constantijn C. Huysmans, an artist from Paris.
  • From 1869 to 1876, Van Gogh worked for his Uncle Cent, an art dealer. He spent time in both London and Paris before being let go.
  • Vincent van Gogh briefly worked as a supply teacher in Ramsgate, England.
  • When he was a young man, Van Gogh was deeply religious. He wanted to be a pastor and he became a missionary in Belgium. He lost his faith completely in the early 1880s.
  • Following advice from his brother, Theo, and Williem Roelofs, the Dutch artist, Van Gogh decided to take his art more seriously, and he went to the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts (Brussels).
  • Van Gogh started to paint with oil paints in 1883.
  • In 1885 he completed his best work to date, The Potato Eaters.
  • In 1887, Vincent and his brother Theo became friends with Paul Gauguin.
  • In 1888, in Arles (France), Van Gogh produced some his most famous works, such as Van Gogh’s Chair, The Night Cafe, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers.

Starry Night

  • Paul Gauguin came to Arles in 1888 and the two artists worked side by side. During this period Gauguin produced a portrait of Van Gogh.
  • The two artists often argued about art and, following a particularly savage row on 23rd December 1888, Van Gogh slice off part of his ear lobe with a razor blade.
  • Van Gogh’s mental state went downhill. He started to suffer with hallucinations and he was convinced that he was being poisoned. He attended a mental asylum in Saint-Remy.
  • Van Gogh two rooms – one for sleeping in and a studio. He produced The Starry Night – one of his most well-known works – during his stay in Saint-Remy.
  • Van Gogh left Saint -Remy in 1990. He moved to Auvers-sur-Oise to be near Dr Paul Gachet, a physician who had successfully treated several artists. During his stay in Auvers-sur-Oise, Van Gogh completed a painting a day for seventy days.
  • Following a severe bout of depression and hallucinations, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died in his bed nearly thirty hours later on 29th July 1890. He was only 37 years old.
  • According to his brother Theo, Van Gogh’s last words were: The sadness will last forever.
  • Van Gogh wrote hundreds of letters. Most of them were to his brother, Theo.
  • Although Van Gogh was admired by other artists during his lifetime, his work wasn’t appreciated by the public. He only sold one painting during while he was alive, The Red Vineyard.
  • Today Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists in the world and his work changes hands for millions of dollars.

What next? Learn more about other famous artists.