Holland Country Information

Holland is laboratory of progressive living with a fascinatingly unique culture that allows choices rarely seen elsewhere in the world. From the engineering marvel of Amsterdam, a city that is a patchwork quilt of canal-bordered islands anchored upon millions of wooden pilings and offers everything from the House of Hajenius, which is a cigar connoisseur's Mecca to the highest concentration of museums in the world; to the former island of Schokland, the fortifications around Amsterdam, the windmills of Kinderdijk-Elshout, Willemstad (in the Netherlands Antilles) and the Rietveld-Schroderhuis, which are all on UNESCO's World Heritage List; to The International Court of Justice (at the Peace Palace) and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Holland is more than just the land of tulips and old fashioned windmills. Let EuroSwiss Global show you the wonders of this country, a quarter of which lies under sea level. Whether you land at Schiphol Airport, which is four meters below sea level or sail into Rotterdam, the world's second largest seaport, you will have embarked on a journey that will challenge many of your unquestioned social beliefs. After all, Holland is a bold experiment in freedom. With its Marijuana Museum and "coffee shops" (pubs that sell marijuana to anybody above the age of 18), its Tippelzone (drive in red light area) and government sponsored handbooks that teach prostitutes about safe sex, tourists are in for an alternative lifestyle that encourages self-expression and freedom. Prepare to take it all in, as you stroll across a canal watching the midnight sun go down.

Recent History

During the First World War (1914-18), the Netherlands remained neutral. It continued to pursue a policy of strict neutrality until the Second World War, but was invaded by Germany in May 1940 and occupied for five years. Queen Wilhelmina spent the war years in England, playing a vital role as the symbol of resistance against the occupying forces. She abdicated in 1948, after a reign of 50 years, in favour of her daughter Juliana. Queen Juliana abdicated in turn on 30 April 1980 to be succeeded by her eldest daughter, the present Queen Beatrix. The Netherlands was a major colonial power until the Second World War, but after 1945 its two largest colonies, Indonesia and Suriname, gained independence. Today, the Dutch Antilles and Aruba still form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Longer Historical Perspective
Until the early 5th century, the area south of the Rhine was part of the Roman Empire. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Netherlands consisted of many separate feudal entities, which were eventually united, under Emperor Charles V (1500-1558), with the rest of the 'Low Countries' (present-day Belgium and Luxembourg) as part of the Holy Roman Empire.But Charles V's son, King Philip II of Spain, caused widespread resentment by restricting religious freedom and aspiring to absolute power. So in 1568, some of the northern Dutch provinces revolted under Prince William of Orange, starting what the Dutch call the Eighty Years' War. This ended in 1648 with the Treaty of Munster, which recognised the Republic of the United Provinces (the seven sovereign provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland, Groningen, Overijssel and Gelderland) as an independent state. During the 17th century, the Netherlands' 'Golden Age', the Republic became very prosperous thanks largely to the Dutch East Indies Company, which could be described as the world's first multinational. This company had interests along the coasts of Africa and Asia, with bases in present-day Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Around the same time, the Dutch West Indies Company (WIC) was trading with West Africa and the Americas, and from 1625 to 1664 it administered New Amsterdam, which later became New York. Conflicting trading interests led to several wars with England, but the ties with that country were close. The Stadtholders, William II and his son William III both married English princesses, and in 1689, William III was asked by the English Parliament to share the English crown with his wife, Mary II. The French Revolution signalled the end of the Republic of the United Provinces, which was invaded and occupied by French revolutionary forces in 1795. In 1813, the French Empire collapsed and the Low Countries regained their independence. In the northern Netherlands, there was a power struggle between republicans and monarchists, which was won by the latter. Willem Frederik, Prince of Orange-Nassau, returned from exile in England. The Government moved to The Hague, although Amsterdam remained the official capital. In 1815, the northern and southern Netherlands - today's Netherlands and Belgium - were combined to form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with Willem Frederik as King William I. This marked the introduction of the Dutch hereditary monarchy. The constitution was radically revised in 1848, making ministers accountable to an elected Parliament rather than the monarch. The new constitution was the basis for a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. In 1830, the southern Netherlands seceded from the Kingdom to form the independent state of Belgium.


Amsterdam Dinner Cruise
Board a comfortable boat as you combine a cruise through the illuminated canals with a sumptuous 4-course dinner, complete with fresh cut French bread. You will be greeted with a welcoming drink and the dinner will be rounded off in style as you enjoy a enjoy petit grand dessert, with tea or coffee. Our motor launches are well equipped and when evenings are chilly the boats remain comfortably heated. From the 7th of December until the 20th of January, the city of Amsterdam will be illuminated due to the Light Festival. You can enjoy a beautiful view of lights and visual effects that will be seen across the city, as well as on the boats and popular tourist attractions. Enjoy this magical illuminations effect as you cruise through the city.

Antwerp and Brussels
This tour will take you to Antwerp first, where a stop will be made at the Market square and the Cathedral. Then tour will continue to Brussels for an extended city tour, including the Royal Palace, EC Headquarters, the tomb of the unknown soldier and of course the famous statue of Manneken Pis. You will visit also a lace factory in Brussels. Before your return to Amsterdam, there will be time for shopping or a stroll in the city. Lunch is not included.

Combined City tour of Amsterdam, Delft, The Hague & Madurodam
On this tour, you will discover the old and New Amsterdam. The city tour will take you past the high points of Amsterdam and drive through the rich history and culture of this city. There will be a stop to visit the diamond factory, where all the diamonds are polished in a traditional way. Then we will continue the tour visiting three Dutch cities; Delft, The Hague and Madurodam. In Delft, we will visit the famous Delft pottery, we then head for the Hague, the famous Dutch government where we will see ancient government buildings. Finally we get to the smallest town Madurodam, where you will have the opportunity to see Holland at a glance!

Grand Holland Tour
On this tour you will get to know the Dutch and their entrepreneurial spirit. You will visit Rotterdam with the largest port in Europe and the remarkable yellow cube houses. The literal highlight is the 96 m high Euromast tower with the Euroscoop, the rotating glass elevator reaching 185 m (weather permitting). Then on to Delft for a visit to a Delft Blue Pottery factory followed by a lunch (not included). After that, we will show you The Hague, with our Parliament and the Peace Palace. In the miniature town of Madurodam you will see Holland at a glance. All entrance fees are included.

Red Light District Walking Tour
A tour through 'Dark' Amsterdam can be rather illuminating, as it centres on the famous Red Light District. The excursion starts at a prostitute information centre, where you will have a drink while a former prostitute explains the system and you can ask any questions you may have. The visit to the 'Wallen'' (the Red Light District) is perhaps the most interesting part of the tour. You will see for yourself the oldest profession of the world. The tour continues past interesting monuments and through old streets, one of which is the well-known 'Zeedijk', once one of the most dangerous streets of Amsterdam - where Seamen could be found looking for local amusement. Nowadays this is a safe area, full of lively Dutch pubs and restaurants and the shady bars of yester-year are long gone. Safety during this excursion is not a concern, as a reliable guide throughout will accompany you.