Amsterdam may be a tiny place, but Amsterdam's history is long and storied. The city dates back to 1275, when the count of Holland granted toll-free status to residents along the Amstel River (hence the name). At one point in time, it was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Ships from Amsterdam sailed all around the world, creating the foundation of a massive worldwide trading network. Merchants in Amsterdam owned the majority of shares in the United East India and West India companies, which owned the land that became the vast collection of Dutch colonies, including Indonesia, Suriname, Cape Town and what is now known as New York. After the founding of its Exchange Bank in 1609, Amsterdam became Europe’s leading financial center, as well as the most important port. Everywhere you walk in the city, you’ll stand face to face with Amsterdam's history. Very little has been demolished, and the amount of new construction is limited within the heart of the city. You can walk for blocks without seeing a single bit of new construction.