XXX on the Amsterdam flag

Amsterdam flag xxx

Why is three XXX on the Amsterdam flag? We all see the XXX everywhere in Amsterdam. On flags, on buildings, on those anti- parking poles, manhole covers and so many other places. What do you think they stand for? Yes, Amsterdam has a famous red light area, but that is not the source of the three XXX. It has nothing to do with being X-rated naughtiness. They were invented long before the discovery of neon lighting. You have seen them everywhere in Amsterdam, but what do you believe they mean? I was in a cafĂ© near Dam Square once and I heard the waitress confidently explain to tourists what the XXX stands for. I believed her! Read on to find out what she said and what they actually mean…

XXX on the Amsterdam flag

XXX on the Amsterdam flag
It’s on the Westerkerk Tower.

 

I remember the tourist couple asking the waitress as they were paying for their meal. A classic question in Amsterdam and my ears spiked up as I wanted to hear the answer. She told them that the 3 X’s stood for Trade, Tolerance and Exploration. She said it with such unshakable confidence that I believed her. Of course, I later checked the veracity of her statement. It was just a good story that I am sure she believed was true. The tourists believed her and still probably do. What do you think the truth is? What have you heard?

 

Two lions

Lions and Crosses

 

Maybe you have heard that the three crosses were to remind people in the past of the three greatest threats to the city, namely Fire, Flood and The Black Death. That too might just be a nice-sounding story. The crosses are St Andrew’s crosses from the Coat of Arms of Amsterdam. The crosses do predate the black death, so there goes that theory. St Andrew was a martyr from the first century AD. 

 

XXX on the Amsterdam flag

 

Shipping

In the early 16th century, the flag with its white crosses was popular with fishermen. Then all the boats registered in Amsterdam flew the flag. Given how busy shipping and trade became for Amsterdam the flag must have been visible everywhere! The flag has been representative of Amsterdam for many years. It was only in early 1975 that it became the official symbol of the city.

It’s a simple yet striking design. It sums up the city so well. It is beautiful!

Do you like the XXX on the Amsterdam flag

So there is no absolutely definitive answer. Many people have different ideas about it. Whatever you think, it really is a great symbol for a great city!

 

xxx
Amsterdam three crosses street post

Iamsterdam did a very interesting piece about this too

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