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“Walking Tour of Amsterdam's Financial History”

Walking Tour on the Financial History of Amsterdam
Ranked #194 of 359 Tours in Amsterdam
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: All around the centre of Amsterdam, its buildings still remind us of its heritage as the centre of finance and financial innovations such as the Amsterdam Bank, the first stock exchange, the first loan to the United States and the ingenious Amsterdam Municipal Giro. Former banker and central banker Simon Lelieveldt guides you through his hometown. And while doing so he shares stories and insights on payments systems and banking that are still relevant today. While we do mostly private and business tours, feel free to inform whether an open tour is planned.
Dayton, OH
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Walking Tour of Amsterdam's Financial History”
Reviewed July 9, 2013

Our university group of 10 persons just finished Simon Lelieveldt’s financial history walking tour of Amsterdam. It was fabulous. We had only been in Amsterdam for two days, and the only museum we had visited prior to the tour was the Amsterdam (History) Museum for an overview of the city’s history.
Simon’s walking tour clearly explains the contribution of Amsterdam to economics and global finance. While weaving in and out of smaller streets and alleys--avoiding areas plagued by tourists—Simon traces the rise of a fishing village that cooperated in the building of a dam and exploited its ‘tax free status’ to become an entrepôt for goods moving from inland to the sea and to and from the Baltic and the Mediterranean seas. Simon points out that what actually enabled the Netherlands to master the Atlantic ‘bulk trade’ routes and later the ‘rich trade’ routes to Asia was a tradition of financial innovation. Not only was the joint stock corporation—the permanent joint venture, often with government imprimatur-- essentially invented in Amsterdam, but many of the ‘complex’ financial instruments that muddy financial waters today—options, puts and calls, derivatives such as forward contracts and futures—were all innovated in the commodity/stock exchange just off Dam Square.
Simon’s walking tour incorporates all the pivotal sites, but he also uses every stop to clarify important concepts. For example, the first persons to charge interest (usury) in Amsterdam were Lombards (Catholics) from Italy; their operations, equivalent to pawn shops, were then ‘nationalized’ by the city authorities to prevent abuses (excessive interest rates). The Exchange, where foreign currencies were transferred and trading accounts settled (typically on a particular day of the month), later morphed into a bank, much like the Medici maneuver in Italy. But most importantly, Simon emphasizes that was the migration of people into the Low Countries traders from the south--first Jews from Spain and Portugal, later Protestants and commercially-minded Catholics from Antwerp--that enriched Amsterdam’s capital stock. The migrants brought financial capital (funds), social capital (network connections with traders in other markets), but most importantly, human capital: skills and trading savvy.
Simon’s treatment emphasizes the process of ‘continuous improvement’ that enabled the Dutch ‘joint venture’—battling Spain for religious and political independence--to establish a global trading network which integrated the Spice Islands, South Africa, and Surinam, often to the detriment of their inhabitants. He doesn’t neglect to discuss the dark side: He ends the tour near an exhibit on the slave trade, and he is conscientious about revealing the role of trust, greed and derivatives in past (such as the infamous Dutch commodity bubble known as Tulipmania) and more modern financial crises.
Simon is low key and very good at ‘reading’ his audience, able to alter the pace to suit the audience and so well versed on financial topics that almost no question is outside his sphere. We would take another tour at the drop of a florin, if only he offered a sequel!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank bjohn1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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15 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
2 reviews
“Perfect Tour for my Students”
Reviewed June 6, 2013

Simon Leilieveldt is an unusual tour guide as he not only knows the history and details of Amsterdam's financial district, but he is a financial professional himself. This meant that while giving his tour he was able to connect Amsterdam's history with recent events to make the tour very relevant for my class of University students studying Global Economics. I led this group of students on a trip to Europe to visit organizations and institutions associated with European economic policy. At the end of the 2 1/2 week trip, Simon's tour was considred one of the top 3 highlights by the students. Simon is engaging, customizes the tour to fit the group he is leading that day, and can improvise depending on the questions and interests of the group. For example. since we were from the USA he brought us to a couple of locations relevant to American history and our relationship with the Dutch. It was much more interesting to have a tour with a focus rather than one of the more general tours of a city that you usually get when you visit Europe. If you have Simon as your tour leader, you will not regret it.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank Ian F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1 review
“History of financial establishments in the city”
Reviewed May 29, 2012

Saw a side of Amsterdam which I had not known in the past 4 years of being here. Amazing details revealed and very smooth flow of the complete story.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
Thank Bidisha A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
haarlemmermeer
Level Contributor
120 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“Unexpected look at Amsterdam”
Reviewed May 21, 2012

I thought I knew the city quite well. I've been to college there and done numerous trips to the city after that. However this tour showed me aspects of the city I'd never seen before, it also shed a new light on places I'd walked by dozens of times.

If you're at all interested in the financial history of the city this tour is a must-do.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
Thank wijnands
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
15 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Walking tour of Amsterdam with a financial overview”
Reviewed May 14, 2012

This tour was organised by the esteemed dutch financial institution I work for in the event of celebrating our project achievements. Simon Lelieveldt was our guide and he made every bit of the tour interesting. Explaining the history and beginning of finances in the Netherlands with fascinating details and trivia, this was truly a few hours well spent.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
Thank Chocolates-N-Cheese
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SimonLelieveldt, Owner at Walking Tour on the Financial History of Amsterdam, responded to this review, May 16, 2012
Thank you very much for your kind review !
It was a pleasure to be your host on this afternoon.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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