About the DistrictThe famous red-light district is well known among tourists visiting the city. Thousands of tourists arrive every week, especially those looking for a glimpse of the famous prostitution area. The Netherlands is one of the only countries to allow prostitution as a legal and institutional activity, headed by a union.
If you wondered about the origin of the name, the word "Wallen" means walls, and it originated from the walls that used to be in the center of the Old City. The houses in the area were all built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The total size of the district is 6,500 square meters.
In the quarter you can see about 300 shop windows where the prostitutes are displayed almost naked. The area also has sex shops, strip clubs and other services in the industry. The lights coming from the shop windows are red, of course, attracting the full attention of the visitors. As you can imagine, photography in the area is forbidden!
In recent years, young designers have been trying their luck in the area and are contributing to the development of the region's status and making it fashionable and chic. It may also be an attempt to reduce the crime and prostitution that stand out in their presence in the district.
Controversy About the DistrictIn recent years, quite a few actions have been taken to close the controversial activity taking place in the district. Although prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, there is a simple discussion about the issue throughout the world and here as well.
In 2007 the municipality of Amsterdam set as a goal to "clean" the area and change the face of the historic quarter. They tried to reduce the extent of sexual activity, in other words, the infamous shop windows. The name of the project was "Project 1012" and it tried to appeal to a more "equality" audience and draw them to the scene, while trying to reduce the scope of prostitution.
As part of Project 1012, 115 of the 500 active windows were closed. Presently, the municipality has announced that it has no plans to close additional windows, but those that have been closed will no longer open.
In 2015, 200 sex workers and members of the Dutch organization "Proud" organized a demonstration against the closure of the area and its activities. They demonstrated in the quarter and marched toward the town hall, wearing wigs and Venetian masks. They called on the municipality to allow continued activity in the area.
About the Name "Red Light"So you do not have to be genius to understand that the name "red windows" came from the bright red light from the transparent windows along the district. The goal was to be seen from far away, and emphasize immediately what specific activity was taking place. However, the red color can also be referred to in deeper contexts, such as in the biblical story where a prostitute was required to hang a red thread on her window.
Apparently the red light has already become a kind of symbol, since we can see quite a few red districts in different places in the world. Europe has a number of red districts in different countries, usually concentrated in different sexual industries.
It is the red, conspicuous, seductive, feminine color that dominates the quarter - and not by chance. What is certain - you won't be able to say "I didn't know" ...