Ahh, Amsterdam. For years, the charismatic Dutch capital has held a strong reputation as Europe’s “Sin City”, thanks to its vibrant red light district (which is ironically situated right behind Oude Kerk, the city’s oldest parish church).
This is where you’ll find some of Amsterdam’s best coffeeshops, as well as roughly 300 little one-room cabins rented by sex workers. Amsterdam’s red light district is also home to live sex theatres, a variety of “smartshops”, and a host of tourist attractions.
If that weren’t enough, the city is also plastered in signs and flags depicting 3 big Xs. You’ll find them hanging from buildings and even painted/stamped onto bins, council trucks, and manholes, and proudly displayed on all kinds of souvenirs.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. But despite the city’s reputation, the triple X signs you find around the city have nothing to with sex, drugs, or any other taboo topic. Instead, they are deeply entrenched in the city’s history, long before the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam ever existed.
THE AMSTERDAM FLAG AND COAT OF ARMS
The XXX you’ll find all over Amsterdam are actually St Andrew’s crosses and originate from the city’s original coat of arms.
Amsterdam’s full coat of arms boasts a bright red shield with a black pale and three white crosses. The shield sits below the Imperial Crown of Austria and is held by two golden lions. Below the shield, written on a white banner, is the city’s motto: Heroic, Steadfast, Compassionate (Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig).
Amsterdam’s flag is closely based on the escutcheon of its coat of arms. If you visit the city, you’ll likely see the red, black, and white flag flown atop buildings or on canal boats. You’ll also find the three crosses from the flag all around town on everything from the bollards separating the footpaths and streets to council garbage trucks.
WHAT DOES XXX REPRESENT?
There are various theories on what the elements on the Amsterdam flag and coat of arms represent. Some suggest that the three crosses of the flag were meant to ward off the three main dangers of the city: fire, floods, and the black plague—but there is no solid basis for these theories.
The exact origins of the colours on the Amsterdam Coat of Arms aren’t completely clear either. However, city officials suggest the colours could be based on the coat of arms of the Persijns, an old noble family who owned large tracts of land in and around modern-day Amsterdam.
The middle stripe of the flag is believed to represent the river Amstel, which flows from Amsterdam all the way to Nieuwveen. The depiction of water is, after all, pretty common in flags and coats from other cities around the Netherlands, too.
Despite Amsterdam’s rich and long history, its flag only dates back to the 1970s. In fact, it was only officially adopted in February 1975. Its design became very popular and has often received praise from designers. Roman Mars, for example, referred to it as the most “badass” city flag in 2015.
OTHER PLACES TO FIND AMSTERDAM’S 3 CROSSES
So, the XXX you see around Amsterdam isn’t a testament to the city’s tolerance for drugs and sex. Nonetheless, the flag was super successful and its elements, especially the 3 crosses, have become an iconic representation of the city itself.
And that’s exactly why we decided to work them into our logo. At Amsterdam Genetics, our name says it all; we’re proud of Amsterdam’s long-standing relationship with cannabis. We’re proud that for over 30 years our city has been at the forefront of changing perceptions about cannabis use, and that our genetics have been at the heart of many of the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam.
At Amsterdam Genetics, we’re dedicated to preserving some of Holland’s best strains, including classics like Amnesia Haze and Pineapple Kush. At the same time, we’re proud to use these genetics as building blocks to create all kinds of new and exciting varieties.
So, take a closer look at our logo (as well as that of Boerejongens Coffeeshops), and you’ve found another place where Amsterdam’s iconic flag has made its mark. And if you’re ever in town, make sure to check out Boerejongens, easily the best coffeeshop in Amsterdam.