Amsterdam Red Light District.
I have recently been to Amsterdam and what can I say!? It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its beauty will truly blind you. From its humble beginnings as a fishing village to its current role as a hub for business and culture, the city developed rapidly and it attracts more and more tourists day after day. Today Amsterdam does not lake of anything. It is a touristic destination of great architectural and cultural value.
Well, that been said among all the things to do in Amsterdam, you know what impressed me the most? The Red Light District. Yes, of course I understand that with all the various things to do in Amsterdam, it is a bit simplistic remembering it for its red light area but I tell you that it made me think a lot.
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When the concept of prostitution came into my life
Taking a step back I’ll tell you about my experience as a girl. I used to live in a small town in Italy called Rubiera and from Monday to Friday I used to travel by bus from Rubiera to Modena because all my university courses were in Modena and they all were compulsory. Since they often ended very late, on my way back home, from Modena to Rubiera, I witnessed every day a scene that at that time always made me feel uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that I did everything I could to have the seat in the front row, close to the driver.
At the main bus station in Modena, so many women got on the bus. Once they were inside the bus, they put on their makeup and changed their clothes. They all got off the bus half naked between the “Brucciata” and the “Cittanova”stop. And then they stayed there along the Via Emilia waiting for their customers. They probably worked all night because when it happened that I needed to travel to Modena early in the morning, the women of the day before took the bus back to Modena.
I seemed to be watching a surreal scene.
This was an everyday adventure of my university days until I finally decided to move to Modena. Before this, prostitutes have never been in my head. And now that I’m in Amsterdam, strolling around the Red Light District, well, some thoughts come to my head.
Read Also: Things to do In Modena
Amsterdam and prostitution
Amsterdam has a different way of thinking about prostitution, so instead of criminalizing it, they tolerate it and they enjoy the honesty of it all. Well, we all know that prostitution has entertained people throughout the centuries, but even though that’s the case, there is no other culture today that accepts it as a matter of fact.
When I was in the red light district, at the beginning it was a bit uncomfortable. Because it is still prostitution. It is so immoral in the country where I live. For good or ill this is the concept with which we grow up.
But in the Netherlands prostitution is legal. It means that you can run a business where you can hire sex workers as long as you get the licence and you pay the taxes like any other activity.
Why is prostitutions legal in the Netherlands
The reason why prostitution in the Netherlands was legalized in 2000 was to fight human trafficking and to protect the sex workers. By doing it this way they prevent forced prostitution. If you stop and think about it this is not such a bad thing. Is it not much better for the sex workers? Prostitution does exist anyway.
Actually I don’t even know if I’m making a fair point. I was just thinking out loud. Those who I used to see in Modena on the bus from Modena to Rubiera were surely unlicensed with no legal protection or proper health care and why not, most likely even forced.
So, isn’t it better in Amsterdam? Or do you think it is wrong to accept something which has always been immoral? All right, I asked myself a thousand questions.
Anyway the sex selling has a big income in Amsterdam not only because they pay taxes but also because they bring a great amount of tourism to Amsterdam.
Prostitution in Red Light District
Around 800 prostitutes work in Amsterdam and half of them are “behind the window “ girls.
In the Red Light District, from about noon until long after midnight, the girls stand behind red-lit glass doors with red curtains, with fancy outfits in order to attract customers. When a man sees a girl he likes, he can approach and knock on the window to negotiate about what should be done, for how long, and the price. When he finally enters, the door and the red curtain close behind him. The prices of “behind the windows” girls typically start from 50 euros and goes up according to how much time you want to stay or on what kind of extra services you want.
The rent of the window is extremely high. It can cost from 90 to 150 euros for eight hours. This means that they need from four to five clients per day in order to pay the rent.
When is the best time to visit the Red Light District in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Red Light District is not only about prostitutes and sex. Strolling around the Red Light District during the daytime is definitely well worth it for anyone who just wants to admire the beauty of its architecture. With a big concentration of shops, restaurants, museums, bars and coffee shops (which is what they call marijuana shops) it is a cozy place for spending a pleasant couple of hours.
But on the other hand if you want to get to know its atmosphere, I would recommend visiting the Amsterdam Red Light District during the evening or night when the area starts coming to life and the red lights start to spread from the glass windows.
The main Amsterdam Red Light District (as there are 3 in the city) is located in the oldest neighborhood of the city called “De Wallen.” It is just a short walk from the Central Train Station. The architecture here is typically Dutch.
Things to know about the Red Light District in Amsterdam
- The district is only 6500 square meters and it is extremely overcrowded. Thus, make sure you keep a close eye on your belongings because pickpockets try to take their chances.
- Watch out for street dealers. Whether it is condoms or a joint don’t buy anything from them. If you want to try to smoke some cannabis know that there are plenty of coffee shops in the Amsterdam Red Light District.
- In order to ensure their safety, it is strictly prohibited to take photos of the prostitutes. It means that if the windows are occupied, you can’t point the camera toward them. Remember this point very well because they will really get angry if you take photos of them.
- Know that the most interesting churches in Amsterdam are in the Red Light District. Seeing a church where a mass was going on, surrounded by the brothel windows made me smile.
- Red Light District in Amsterdam is so called because of the red lights at the prostitute houses which are turned on as a sign that it is open. If the light is turned off, that means that the brothel house was not operating at that very moment.
- Promoting prostitution services out on the street is however illegal in Amsterdam.
- There are 3 Red Light Districts in Amsterdam, one in the De Wallen area, the second one is between the Singel and Radhuisstraat, right next to the Dam Square and the third one is in the Pijp, right behind the Rijksmuseum
- Prostitutes must be at least 18 years old and the customers must be 16 years old or older.
- No public drinking is allowed in the Red Light District.
- The name “De Wallen” comes from the fact that some of the canals located in the area next to the old harbour used to be walled and moreover “wall” also used to be a code name for “paid sex.”
- Apart from the street dealers and pickpockets, Amsterdam Red Light District is safe.
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Regarding my visit to the Red Light area I can only say that I’m glad I got to have this experience. It is an interesting point of view. Now, even if I’m not a supporter of prostitution, I acknowledge that it has always been and it will always be. At least they can do their job in healthy conditions.
Neil Alvin Nicerio
January 29, 2018 at 4:11 am
Thank God no one mugged you for taking photos of the red light district. Anyway, never have I seen a red light district that has class. Other places have one too but there's none to write about it except sex. At least they incorporated art here.
January 29, 2018 at 5:59 pm
We always need to keep an open mind when traveling but, just like you, I have reservations in considering prostitution as a legitimate job. Perhaps the best thing we can do now is not take part in this business.