It achieved huge prosperity on the back of Dutch independence from Spanish rule, achieved during decades of struggle in the 16th and 17th centuries, when the center of economic activity which was situated in Flanders which was still under Spanish rule, moved north and following the growth of the Dutch mercantile empire during the 'Golden Age'. It has a wealth of cultural treasures, most notably the works of art, including many by Rembrandt, Vermeer, etc. in the Rijksmuseum, and for its charming domestic architecture - long rows of 17th and 18th century houses along the concentric rings of canals that surround the city's heart. A more sombre monument is the Anne Frank House, where the German-Jewish Frank family hid from the German occupation forces during World War II, and made famous by Anne Frank's Diary. Some visitors are more attracted by the notorious Zeedijk Red Light District where prostitution is legal, and the "coffee shops" which sell marijuana, which is technically illegal but officially not prosecuted.
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, set in its historic home designed by P.J.H. Cuypers (who also designed the Central Station building), houses the largest collection of art and history in the Netherlands. 
- History of the Netherlands
- Flemish School of Painting
- Gallery of Flemish and Dutch painting
- Art cities