Updated: May 17, 2020
We arrived mid-morning, Amsterdam time, after checking into our hotel and having lunch we headed to Oude Kerk – our meeting point for our Walking tour.
The Oude Kerk – Dutch for the Old Church, is the oldest building and parish church in Amsterdam. We were briefed on what to do and what not to do whilst walking through the Red Light District. Sebastian was our tour guide and he has a great amount of enthusiasm for the city.
There was a range of stories, ranging from the dominance of the Protestant faith to the start of Prostitution. There is a laid back and relaxed vibe in Amsterdam and we found that out whilst eating out in the city. There seemed to be a different way of life, especially the attitude towards Prostitution and Sex Workers, where both are tolerated as long as it is discreet.
Red Light District
Sebastian was adamant that we show respect to the sex workers, we weren’t allowed to take photos of them and didn’t take us to the areas where there were a lot of rooms. They weren’t a “tourist attraction” and were doing their day job.
Prostitution started when Sailors started arriving into Amsterdam, they brought trade to the city and as their occupation was rather dangerous at the time, they would let their hair down in the city. This meant drinking and having fun with women.
As this was bringing a lot of trade to city, the church decided to tolerate this behaviour and would accept confessions in exchange for a donation to the Church so it could fund and maintain their places of worship.
Nowadays, sex workers rent a room and work their shifts. It was quite encouraging that there is so much tolerance and sex work is a recognised job and that the women and men are normal people.
Recently, tours have now been banned in the Red Light District as it has hurt the Sex Workers trade. This will take effect from January 2020.
Outside the Oude Kerk there is a brass monument of breasts, this was placed by an anonymous artist and just appeared out of nowhere
A statue titled Belle is also situated in Oudekerksplein - Old Church's Square, in respect and honour of prostitutes of the world.