Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th, Amsterdam Style

Happy 4th of July, today's assignment called for us to go on a tour of the city of Amsterdam. Our tour guide Jo was from New Zealand and she really helped get our tour on it's way to a great start. Energetic and enthusiastic, she made sure to take us through the definite hot spots and common area's that everyone wants to visit when they come to Amsterdam; but she also was very good about pointing out little historic pieces throughout the city that we bypass everyday just walking.

Throughout our tour Jo told us about this church, that is actually called the "Old Church". In Dam square lies the church named the "New Church", even though it was built roughly around the 1400's the name holds on. I really took interest to some of the history within the Old Church. About 700 years ago the Old church was actually built, years ago, back when Amsterdam was first on its rise the Catholic religion held control. Many things went on within the church and all was not necessarily in the best interest of everyone. Throughout the Catholic religion, they have what she described to us called a Contest pot. The people would go into the contest pot before or after they did something wrong and confess their sins to the priest. They would brag to the priest about how the enjoyed whatever the deed was they did and in the same sentence ask for forgiveness. After asking for forgiveness most times the people would go and perform a good deed, and supposedly the action of sin was erased. They were back in good terms and everything was ok again, until the next time....

The Catholic system was eventually abused, meaning that priest would use this time as a way to take money from the people. Those would come and confess their sins and the priest would charge them a fee afterwards.

The hand on breast sculpture is one that is embedded in the sidewalk right in front of the Old Church. This sculpture marks the leading way into the Red Light District. Rubbing the sculpture is said to give you good luck and the symbolism behind this, is that it represents the ladies of the Red Light District. Sort of a way of letting you know what goes on in the area you are about to journey into. The hand on breast is a hidden sculpture and most would not realize that it is there. Myself, actually being one of those persons that had walked straight over it the day before. Years ago, there was small debate about removing the bronze sculpture, but through the test of time the hand on breast lies in it's place.