as a fishing village in 1200, Amsterdam grew rich
rapidly and its medieval wealth can be admired in
the Gothic Oude Kerk. It became the region's chief
trading city under the Habsburgs, but Dutch resistance
to its Spanish ruler, Philip II, led to civil war.
Amsterdam sided with Spain, but switched loyalties
in 1578 to become the Protestant capital of the new
Dutch East India Company (VOC) was the start of its
17th century Golden Age, illustrated by the Koninklijk
Paleis and paintings in the Rijksmuseum. The German
occupation of World War II is symbolized by Anne Frank's
house. Today, the city offers many high-quality museums,
speciality beers and lively street life.