Amsterdam Announces Major Changes to Infamous Red Light District

Tourists visiting Amsterdam will often find themselves—whether accidentally or on purpose—wandering through the De Wallen red light district. The world-famous area known for prostitution is in the midst of a transformation as city officials prepare to move the heart of the capital’s erotic activity from the city center to the suburbs. Now, potential visitors can start planning how to get there. 

Since entering office in 2018, Mayor Femke Halsema has openly spoken about giving the red light district a makeover. Instead of concentrating prostitution in a few square blocks lined with windows, the city is looking to relocate the activity to an “Erotic Center” in the southern part of the city. 

On Dec. 18, city officials named the area of Europa Boulevard in the South district as “the most suitable location for the new Erotic Center,” according to a statement. “This choice will now be presented to the city council early next year.”

The Erotic Center will be more than just a brothel, as locals deriding the decision fear it will become. The mayor intends for the building to serve the community in different ways, including making space for LGBTQ+ Amsterdammers and holding cultural events connected to eroticism like lectures on feminism and tantric yoga classes. 

The plan to move the red light district activity is a part of the city’s effort to crack down on unruly behavior in the area, largely by tourists. If the building comes to fruition, 100 occupants of the city’s 230 licensed prostitution windows will be moved there. According to Time, the building will consist of interlinked structures on the ground floor for sex shops, theaters, restaurants, and bars, while two towers filled with windows will act as the new red light district. 

The city doesn’t anticipate the center to be built for another seven years, so there’s still time to take in the centuries-old De Wallen district before it starts to look very different. 

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