First established in 1275, Amsterdam's golden age began in the early 17th century. Amsterdam became one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, Africa and present-day Indonesia, ndia, Sri Lanka and Brazil, and formed the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam's merchants had the biggest share in the VOC (Dutch East India Company) and WIC (Dutch West India Company). These companies acquired the overseas possessions which formed the seeds of the later Dutch colonies. Amsterdam was the leading financial centre of the world at this time. Amsterdam's stock exchange was the first to trade continuously.
The city's fortunes declined after this, and it wasn't until the end of the 19th century that Amsterdam saw it's second golden age.New museums, a train station, and the Concertgebouw were built. At this time the Industrial Revolution reached Amsterdam.
Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, taking control of the country after five days of fighting. The Germans installed a Nazi civilian government in Amsterdam that cooperated in the persecution of Jews. Many Amsterdammers sheltered Jews at a high risk to themselves and their families and those that were discovered were also sent to the concentration camps. After the war approximately 120,000 Dutch were prosecuted as collaborators.
Today, the entire city center had been restored to its former splendor. Many buildings in the historic city's center are now monuments, the city's center as a whole is a protected area and there are plans to make the Grachtengordel (Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht) a new Unesco World Heritage site.
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