This square is the very spot where Amsterdam was founded around 1270. Today pigeons, tourists, buskers and the occasional funfair (complete with Ferris wheel) take over the grounds. It's still a national gathering spot, and if there's a major speech or demonstration it's held here.
Long before it hosted fun and games, the square was split into two sections: Vissersdam, a fish market where the Bijenkorf department store now stands, and Vijgendam, probably named for the figs and other exotic fruits unloaded from ships. Various markets and events have been held here through the ages, including executions – you can still see holes on the front of the Royal Palace where the wooden gallows were affixed.