The Amsterdam Red Light District is one of the most talked-about neighbourhoods in the city, due to its housing of the world’s oldest profession. While prostitution can be found all across the globe, it usually happens behind closed doors. But not in Amsterdam! In the Red Light area Known as “De Wallen” (pronounced Day Vaw-len) to the Dutch, you’ll find prostitutes offering their “services”, from behind a window. Along with that, the area is known for its many live sex shows, sex shops, brothels, and strip clubs. Although the area used to be quite a notorious and unsafe area, things have changed a lot over the past decades. Besides pickpockets, the area is fairly safe to visit especially during daytime. The oldest erotic theatre in the area is Casa Rosso, which until today, can be visited for some 18+ action. There’s no such thing as an age-restriction to walk through the area, however, all the adult shops and entertainment are not for minors.
The history of the area dates all the way back to the 16th century, as the Catholic government was being overthrown by Protestants. The district was transformed, making way for nightlife and entertainment for the many sailors and travellers passing through Amsterdam. At the time, the harbour in Amsterdam was one of Europe’s most important trade centres. It might be hard to imagine today, but Amsterdam has always been situated at sea. That was until 1932 when a giant dam called “Afsluitdijk” was completed, that cut off the former “Zuiderzee” from the North Sea.
Mariska Majoor from the Prostitution Information Center on sex work in the red light area
Red Light Secrets – Museum of Prostitution
Are you keen to find out more about the Red Light area and sneak-a-peek behind the scenes, Red Light Secrets is your place to go! This former brothel, is turned into a museum dedicated to prostitution. You can actually experience sitting in a window to feel what it would be like, working from a window in this neighbourhood. An audio-guide will teach you a lot on the background of the Red Light District and the world of prostitution. The museum will give you a short, but thorough insight in this notorious area of Amsterdam.
Red Light District Amsterdam Tours
You and your family can learn more about the rich history of the neighbourhood by using one of the touring companies. The tour guide can also tell you the do’s and dont’s of the area in order to stay out of trouble and keep it a safe place to visit, as well as other tips about Amsterdam!
If you want to learn more about the Red Light District and its history, you might be interested in taking a tour through the area. It is a safe way to explore the area and learn more about the Dutch political views on prostitution. You will find out how it all started and how locals view it today. We strongly recommend taking a tour from the PIC or Prostitution Information Centre. It is located next to the Oude Kerk (old church) right in the centre of the area. There are two major reasons why we recommend their tours, over other companies;
- The Prostitution Information Center and Proud, which are housed in the same building, are organisations that help out sex workers with all kinds of advice. They have field workers that visit girls on a daily to help them out with advice on taxes, housing, health and more. Booking a tour from them will benefit these organisations in their help towards sex workers.
- Guides giving the tours, know what they are talking about as they have worked or still work as a prostitute. Thus information given during the tour is mainly first-hand. Besides, the guides try and do their best to avoid any nuisance to colleagues.
Adress and the route to the district
Most of the district is situated between the Zeedijk and the Warmoesstraat. For a quick impression of the area take a look to the map below.