Amsterdam Represented

Tourist guide

The following text and pictures are fragments taken from a tourist website on Amsterdam. The text is followed by some questions for you to answer.

As we said in the introduction, we will not look at the following text with a view to what information we can gain about Amsterdam, but with a view to see how Amsterdam is talked about: how it is represented.

To a large extent the genre of tourist information on a website, already determines what is said and how it is said. We expect certain kinds of information, such as what you can do in Amsterdam, some practical information and what makes the city special or at least worthwhile to pay a visit. We also expect that information to be presented to us in a generally positive and polished way; a way, which gives us, readers, clear and attractive images of the city. Nevertheless within these conventional ways of talking about a city as a tourist destination, texts like these still reveal a particular way of thinking and they create a particular meaning of Amsterdam.

You should note though that because we have selected just a few fragments of this website, we in some ways are giving you a biased view.


First read the whole text and consider in what ways you feel this text is similar or differs from other tourist guides. Then answer the questions one by one.




Amsterdam is one of the greatest small cities in the world. From its canals to world-famous museums and historical sights, Amsterdam is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe.

Amsterdam is a city of tolerance and diversity. It has all the advantages of a big city: culture, history, entertainment, good transport- but is relatively small, quiet, and largely thanks to its canals, has little road traffic.

Coffee shops

Coffee shop Coffee shops in Holland are allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis and they are strictly regulated and taxed. Furthermore, coffee shops must not sell to anyone under 18; they must not sell more than 5g to any customer. Hard drugs are strictly prohibited.

Amsterdam Tourist Sights

Tourist sights

Amsterdam has a broad spectrum of recreational and cultural sights that range from sublime buildings, such as Oude Kerk, to oddities like the Hash Marihuana Museum.

Museums are the main tourist attraction in Amsterdam. Everyone knows the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum, but there is much more. Amsterdam has over fifty museums, which attract many millions of visitors each year.

Red Light District

Beer and party atmosphere, sex for sale, and limitless people watching. These erotic theatres, barely dressed women -old, young, black, white, Asian, fat, skinny, ugly, beautiful- pose in windows, lick their lips, and try to lure visitors inside. The stores are full of hardcore videos. Magazines and sex toys complete the attractions in this sexual amusement park.

Red light district



The four main city centre canals are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel, but there are numerous smaller canals, of which the Brouwersgracht, the Bloemengracht and the Leliegracht are especially pleasant.

The canals provide a leisurely pace from which to observe Amsterdam's unique architecture and street life. By daytime already very charming, by night these canals become even more enchanting as many canal houses and bridges are illuminated.


The square of Leidseplein is one of Amsterdam's popular centres for nightlife.

With many restaurants, clubs, coffee shops and cinemas in the area, the Leidseplein is very lively, especially on warm summer evenings. Street musicians, jugglers, fire-eaters and other performers make the square a lively place until the early hours.



Dam Square is the very centre of Amsterdam. In contrast to its turbulent history, the square is now a peaceful place and is home to flocks of pigeons. The Royal Palace is situated to the west of the square.

Albert Cuyp Market

The Albert Cuyp market is the best-known and busiest outdoor market in Europe that attracts thousands of visitors every day, and is really crowded on Saturdays. The goods on sale at over 300 stalls range from fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish, poultry, to clothes, with prices among the cheapest in Amsterdam. The market is located in the Pijp district, surrounded by many pleasant cafes and small shops.

Albert Cuyp Market


  1. What impression do you get of Amsterdam from the introductory fragment?

>Check your answer

  1. Which particular contrasting images are created in this introductory fragment?

>Check your answer

  1. Now look at how the ideas of both tolerance and diversity are reflected in the other fragments of these web pages.

>Check your answer

>Go to 'a song'.