Why Red Lights in The Red Light District?

As a tourist in Amsterdam you can’t deny your curiosity for The red light district. In Holland we call it De Wallen. The area was used to be a haven and a place for the sailor’s who came here to have fun. The neighborhood became a place with many pubs and brothels. 


Everybody in the world knows the famous red lights of the red light district, but why did they choose the color red? They don’t have a real function anymore nowadays, because of our good health care system. Prostitutes can protect and cure themselves from STD’s. They couldn’t get that help in the past and many of them had to life with itchy redness on their skin. To still look fresh and good for the costumers they used red lights to cover it up.

Back in the dating game

There might be another reason why we call the area The red light district. In a time when there was no Tinder or Happn people had to be creative to let the world know that they were ready for a date. To work on a ship was a big risk in the past. Only 30 procent of the men made it back home. It means that there were a lot of Dutch widows in Amsterdam back then. To let the single men know that they were available they lighted a red lantern at their house. Ofcourse after a period of mourning.


The red light district is a famous place to visit for tourists from all over the world. You can still see a lot “windows” that are used by prostitutes. You don’t have to be a prostitute yourself to experience the feeling of standing behind a window and to be checked out by so many people. The Museum of Prostitution: Red light Secrets gives you the opportunity to try it at their “window”. You’ll probably find out it feels very vulnerable.

We understand that it seems so easy to take a ride on the wild side at the Red light district and we totally get it. What happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam! But there are also a lot of cultural places in the area. At Zeedijk 1 you can find one of the two remained wooden houses from the Middle Ages. The house is called ’t Aepgen and is now a place to get a drink of have diner.

Don’t forget to add De Oude kerk on your route through the Red light district. It’s the oldest remained building in Amsterdam. The church is in the centre of De Wallen and the big building is easy to find. Nowadays the church is a museum, an art gallery and a music theatre. On Sundays they still use it as a church. A good time for some confessions..

We also wrote a blog about the rules of drinking alcohol at The Red light district, read it here