De Wallen is the largest and best known red-light district in Amsterdam. It consists of a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. Window prostitution is the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and the "kamers" are a large tourist attraction. De Wallen, together with the prostitution areas Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade, form the Rosse Buurt (red light areas) of Amsterdam. Of these De Wallen is the oldest and largest area. The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana.
Prostitution has enjoyed a long tradition of tolerance in Amsterdam. Safety is key here. In addition to preventing forced prostitution, the aim is an open and honest approach. Sex-workers here have their own union, plenty of police protection, an information centre (for visitors as well), frequent monitoring and testing and professional standards. The Amsterdam city center has a romantic image. But behind the exciting, unconventional, ‘anything goes’ image of the city center lurks a different reality -- a reality that sometimes consists of sex trafficking, forced prostitution. This is something that the city and the justice department are fighting against. New opportunities are setting in place a future for the city centre. The Amsterdam municipal council’s 1012 project aims to discourage crime and corruption in the city center by reducing the types of businesses that are conducive to crime and by permitting prostitution in just two areas. Together with residents, business proprietors and investors, the municipal council is working to strengthen the area’s unique character and stimulate an economic upgrade. Read more about the 1012 project in the Red Light District.