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Amsterdam is named after the river Amstel and has a population of over 740.000 people. As as a result of centuries of land-reclamation projects the city now borders the freshwater of IJsselmeer although it was originally built on the Zuiderzee. The centre of the old city is shaped like a horseshoe, surrounded by three well known canals called the "Herengracht", "Keizersgracht" and "Prinsengracht". To the north of the city you will find the impressive 19th Century Central Train Station, with it's interior painted ceiling and ornate brickwork. Amsterdam is one of the world's most popular destinations for travellers and offers a wealth of cultural and social activities. The city has a wide range of major tourist attractions, such as the Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt's "Nightwatch" and some exquisite Vermeer's. The constructed Van Gogh museum is also worth visiting and very accessible. This striking modern building not only houses many landscapes and interiors by the infamous Dutch painter, but also temporary exhibitions. Unlike some of the other most frequently visited cities in Europe, Amsterdam is best explored on foot. With its extensive network of canals, visitors can walk along peaceful, tree-lined streets, past elegant Seventeenth Century houses and converted warehouses. The inner ring is one of the most beautiful areas, with an often confusing circular layout of streets, known as the Grachtengordel, or "Girdle of Canals". It is enjoyable to wander along the four main routes, from Singel, with its five star restaurants to Prinsengracht where there are lots of delightful cafes by the water. Even in colder weather, there is plenty to do and see, as numerous town houses owned by illustrious Dutch citizens have been turned into museums. You will find yourself admiring the marble floors, hand-made Delft tiles in the kitchens and grand staircases leading up to sumptuous bedrooms.
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