The Dutch Hanseatic Towns, which evolved back when Amsterdam was still little more than a small town, were aimed at expanding trade and sharing knowledge. Most of them are situated on the water, because that was key from a transport perspective. They have a rich heritage, and many splendid merchant houses and unique facades can still be seen to this day.
History is all around you in the Hanseatic Towns, and the Hanseatic mentality is still there too. The Hanseatic League was an alliance between towns that sought assistance from each other at a time when there were few laws and when piracy, robbery and murder turned trade expeditions into dangerous ventures. The Hanseatic League became a powerful confederation in the Middle Ages. Some 200 towns, from Russia to France, were affiliated. There are a total of nine Hanseatic Towns in the Netherlands, and the four in the Other Holland are covered in more detail here.