What is the meaning of the triple X?

When you walk or cycle around Amsterdam it’s common to find three Xs. But what does it mean? Is it something related with the Red Light District as most people think?

The Amsterdam Coat of Arms is the official symbol of the city, that’s why you can find it in every government building, you can also find them on the small brown poles that keep cars off the sidewalk.

The three Xs (XXX) are actually the three Saint Andrew’s crosses. St. Andrew was a fisherman who was martyred on an X-shaped cross in the 1st century AD, which is relevant to Amsterdam as the city’s symbol dates back to 1505 when it was a fishing town and all ships registered in Amsterdam flew this flag.

There are many different theories about the meaning of triple Xs. If you ask five different people while you are in Amsterdam about the meaning of it. you will get five different answers. We will explain some of them to you.

One of the theories says that the three Xs represent the three ordeals that Amsterdam faced repeatedly during their history. These were floods, fires and the Black Death. Nevertheless, we haven’t found it in any official document. We are not entirely sure if the flag was created based on these natural disasters.

The second theory is more romantic. Have you realized that when Dutch people exchange kisses whilst greeting and saying goodbye they exchange three kisses? This theory says that each X represent one of these kisses.

The third and last theory is the one that historians think is closest to the truth. They think the three Xs can be linked to the noble Persian family, who owned a lot of land around Amsterdam. This family owned also two other cities close to Amsterdam: Ouder-Amstel and Nieuwer-Amstel (nowadays Amstelveen). The flags of this two towns to show the St. Andrew’s Crosses.