Known world

Adam city hall

Image shows a map of the stars inlaid in the floor of the Amsterdam City Hall. Amsterdam used to be the center of the world – the known world, that is – in the 17th century. The fact that it lost its position has somewhat escaped the good people of Amsterdam:  they still behave as if the world is their oyster. Amsterdam is ‘the city’ and the rest of the Netherlands ‘the backwater’.  In Dutch this is even funnier as our Dutch word for ‘backwater’ is ‘platteland’ which literally translates to ‘flatland’. We’ve got lots of that, indeed.

I’ve been convinced for years that the Netherlands is really a city state, with the city being the area roughly delineated by Amsterdam, Utrecht, Den Bosch, The Hague and Haarlem. These labor under the misapprehension that they are separate cities, but can be lumped  together under the name ‘Randstad’ – which isn’t a city but an area. Talk about confusing … Anyway, the Netherlands as a city-state makes much more sense.

These thoughts came to me when I visited recently. The little girl and I were awed – such magnificence.

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