Dam Square takes its name from its original function as a dam on the river Amstel. At its creation in 1270, it served to connect settlements on the two sides of the river. Over time, as land was reclaimed, it became the administrative centre of the city of Amsterdam.
The Damrak, the street leading from Centraal Station to Dam Square, and Rokin, which carries on to Muntplein, follow the original course of the Dam River.
Notable buldings surrounding the square include the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk and the National Monument commemorating the victims of World War II.