Amsterdam-Centrum is the oldest of all Amsterdam city boroughs.
Amsterdam-Centrum is where the iconic Amsterdam canals can be found in the Grachtengordel. Also the Dam Square with the Royal Palace and the large shopping area around the Kalverstraat. The Leidseplein, the Red Light District, the Jordaan, Nieuwmarkt are among the many interesting streets and neighbourhoods located in Amsterdam-Centrum.
Amsterdam-Centrum is the historic heart of the city, where Amsterdam originated with the building of a dam on the river Amstel, way back in the 13th century.
De Nieuwendijk and the Warmoestraat are the streets where the oldest remains of houses have been dug up by archeologists.
The dam that was built between these two shores of the Amstel river in around 1250, is what gave Amsterdam it's original name : "Aemstelledamme".
Amsterdam officially received it's city rights around the year 1300. This is around the same time that the first Amsterdam catholic church was built: the Oude Kerk, which is still the oldest existing building in Amsterdam, nowadays located in the red light district.
Amsterdam soon grew into a trade hub, originally mainly for it's officially sanctioned monopoly on importing German beer.
But it was the legendary "mirakel van Amsterdam" (lit. miracle of Amsterdam) that established Amsterdam's reputation as a medieval place of pilgrimage. The miracle of Amsterdam happened sometime in 1345 in a common residence between the Kalverstraat and the Rokin.
The famous miracle consisted mainly of a host (hostie) inexplicably proving to be indestructible by reappearing completely unscathed after being eaten by a sick man during hist last rites, vomited up again and being thrown into a burning fire. Perhaps even more mysteriously, legend has it that this same host consequently exhibited other special powers by teleporting back to the original location of the miracle after three separate attempts to move the holy object to Amsterdam's Oude Kerk.
The site of the miracle of Amsterdam soon became a chapel and center for pilgrimage, and was even officially sanctioned as such by the pope himself in 1504.
Amsterdam joined the religious reformation in 1578 by ousting its catholic city council and officially becoming a protestant city. The chapel fell into protestant hands which would ultimately end its pilgrimage status. The chest that the sacred host was kept in can still be seen in the Amsterdam Museum.
The late sixteenth and seventeenth century brought about the era commonly referred to as the "golden age" (Gouden Eeuw), a time of unprecedented economic prosperity and growth in the Netherlands, caused by an increased immigration of wealthy refugees from neighbouring countries, increased international trade developments and the dawning of Dutch colonial activity in overseas territories.
The golden age was the era in which the famous Amsterdam Grachtengordel was built, the characteristic circular system of canals that surrounds the original inner city of Amsterdam. The canals and expansions built in the golden age would define the shape of Amsterdam up until the second half of the nineteenth century.
The end to the "golden era" of economic growth came around the same time as the annexation of the Netherlands and Amsterdam by Napoleon's French Empire in 1806. Napoleon's brother, Lodewijk Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned king of the Netherlands, and after pronouncing Amsterdam the capitol city of his newly gained kingdom, quickly took up residence there in the city hall on the Dam Square, which from that time on became the Royal Palace on the Dam.
In the period after the French were ousted in 1813, Amsterdam would experience a population explosion which was caused mainly by a quick growth in trade and industry and the new canals connecting Amsterdam directly to the North Sea (Noordhollandsch Kanaal & Noordzeekanaal). Around the 1860's the city would finally start a period of rapid expansion outside of the boundaries of Amsterdam-Centrum, and Amsterdam grew out of what is now called it's center.