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Amsterdam Red Light District Tour from the Prostitution Information Center

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Visitors' curiosity about the Amsterdam Red Light District exists on a spectrum, ranging from totally uninterested to a little intrigued to full-on fascinated and ready to "shop." No matter where yours lies, the tour of the Amsterdam Red Light District given by the Prostitution Information Center is sure to quench your thirst for knowledge about this famously free-thinking area.

Pros

  • Unique and informative way to see a seedier side of Amsterdam.
  • Chance to see a real Amsterdam prostitution window and bedroom.

Cons

  • Information can be a bit in-your-face.

Description

  • What: Amsterdam Red Light District walking tour
  • Who: Given by employees of the Prostitution Information Center (PIC)
  • Where: Enge Kerksteeg 3, just behind the Oude Kerk in the old centrum of Amsterdam
  • When: Tours are given every Saturday at 5 p.m. (meet at the PIC)
  • Cost: € 12.50/person

Guide Review - Amsterdam Red Light District Tour from the Prostitution Information Center

I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived at the Prostitution Information Center in the heart of the Amsterdam Red Light District. The PIC, as they refer to it, is run by Mariska Majoor, who worked as an Amsterdam prostitute beginning in 1994. When she quit the world's oldest profession, she realized the need for information about the industry, whether for curious tourists, the sex workers themselves or potential clients. I'd hoped Mariska herself would be our tour guide, but instead we were led by cheerful Berna, the only PIC employee who is not a former prostitute. She claims Mariska allows her to bend the rules because she is so passionate about the Amsterdam Red Light District and has studied the history of the area and of prostitution in the Netherlands for years.

She began the tour by sharing some of her historical knowledge, including the fact that prostitution has been going on in this area -- the oldest part of the city, which surrounded the port of Amsterdam -- since the 1200s. Topics throughout the rest of the tour included ethnicities of prostitutes, laws governing the trade, pricing structures, common practices and just about any other subject one of us in the group could think of. Berna had an answer for anything, but keep in mind that her perspective is a little biased.

The culmination of the tour was a visit to a real Amsterdam prostitute's window, where a woman would sit to show off the goods, so to speak. I found it to be much less shocking and much more sterile-feeling than I'd imagined. We also got a peek at the very red boudoir which is hidden from public view by a mirrored door behind the working woman.

I must say I learned far more than I expected to about the area, the sex industry and the women who work in it on this tour. I'd recommend it to visitors, but would warn them to be prepared for some raunchy comments.
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