Those who were in Amsterdam in August 2015 might have noticed how the city was under the spell of tall ships. One of my mates likes boats, so he texted me “Want to take some photos at Amsterdam Sail?”. And just like that we met at the Amsterdam Central train station in the weekend of 23 August.
Amsterdam Sail is the largest free public event in the world. It all started in 1975 when hundreds of tall ships from all over the world docked in Amsterdam to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the city. This event was so successful that the organisers planned a second edition in 1980. That was a success too, and ever since every five years “Sail” takes place in Amsterdam to showcase the city’s maritime legacy.
Sail Amsterdam takes place in the area of the Ij, near the harbour of the city’s lake, a gate to the North Sea. This year, Sail took place from August the 19th until the 23rd. The next Sail event will hopefully be scheduled for 2020.
During this event, visitors are given the chance to take a look at and on many large ships. From Dutch war ships to Colombian sailing ships. But there is more to do. Many cultural events are organized to celebrate the history of the city, great for tourists and locals.
Celebrating the Dutch historical successes is a sensitive subject, as it’s well known that the Dutch had a lot of colonies in the 16th century, and didn’t shy away from slavery. The 16th century is called the “Golden Century” as we owned large portions of the world, even the now mighty city of New York. Today we celebrate the entrepreneurship of our ancestors, but the old colonial times and slavery should never be forgotten.
At Sail you will find many ships from all over the world. Portugal, Sweden, Russia, Venezuela, Colombia, and even Chile. And next to Chile’s four masted ship, called “Esmeralda“, protesters were making noise to ask for attention for crimes against humanity in more recent times. This ship was used by Chile’s dictator Pinochet to torture and murder political opponents in the ’70-ties.
You could question if this ship belongs at such a festive scene. On the other hand: I had a little conversation with a protesting lady, she fled Chile when Pinochet ruled Chile and found home in The Netherlands. She told me about the dictatorship, and I learned something. So that ship being there helped keeping the conversation about this topic alive.
But in the end, this day was about celebration. Today, approximately 20 percent of the Dutch population are foreigners, so we are helping the world a bit, instead of exploiting it.
Below are some more shots that give an impression of this sunny day at Sail 2015.
Thank you for reading! How do you feel about your country’s history? Leave a comment to share your thoughts!