Amsterdam City of Tolerance

Amsterdam is by far Holland’s best-known and most-visited city. World Heritage-listed city center with the famous canals along with the former Jewish Cultural Quater rank among the best preserved 17th century sites in Europe. If ancient houses, old canals, beautiful churches, and synagogues are your thing, then Amsterdam does have a lot to offer.

Home to a bustling cultural, academic and business centre, Amsterdam is known for his tolerance.

As far back as the Middle Ages, people who lived behind dikes — at below sea level — had to cooperate with each other when there is a danger of flooding. Even if otherwise they did not see eye to eye (e.g. due to family feuds, different lifestyles, different religious views, etcetera) it was in their best interest to cooperate in order to survive.

The Netherlands has a long tradition of social tolerance. In the 18th century, while the Dutch Reformed Church was the state religion, Catholicism and Judaism were tolerated.

In the late 19th century this Dutch tradition of religious tolerance transformed into a system of ‘pillarization,’ in which religious groups coexisted separately and only interacted at the level of government.

Pillarization (verzuiling in Dutch) organized society into several smaller segments or “pillars” according to different religions or ideologies, which operate separately from each other in a non-racial form of apartheid.