AMSTERDAM’S CANALS

AMSTERDAM’S CANALS

The beautiful European city of Amsterdam, Netherlands is the capital of the country and has been referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of the numerous water canals, islands and bridges situated within the city.

I-am AmsterdamThe main canals of Herengracht (“Patricians’ Canal” or “Lord’s Canal”), Keizersgracht (“Emperor’s Canal”) and Prinsengracht (“Prince’s Canal”) were all dug during the 17th century amidst the “Dutch Golden Age” and they form a semi-circle of concentric belts around the city, along the route of which lie over 1500 monumental buildings, which were built to commemorate certain people or historical periods or events.

These three main canals are collectively known as “grachtengordel” and were developed for mostly residential purposes, but a fourth canal called “Singelgracht” was dug for purposes of water management, as well as defense.

All of these canals were dug as part of early “city planning,” that envisioned the City of Amsterdam consisting of a series of interconnecting canals that would be used for transporting various goods throughout the city, as well as to its seaport, which greatly enhanced trade in not only Amsterdam, but throughout the ancient world.

From the inner city to the outside, the canals are as follows:

“Sengel” served as a moat around the medieval city of Amsterdam and now is the innermost canal in the semi-circular ring of canals that were dug throughout the city.  Another similarly named canal, “Sengelgracht” was built in the outer limits of the city during the Dutch Golden Age.

“Herengracht” Canal is the first of three major canals in the city center of Amsterdam and is named after the “heren regeerders” who governed the city during the 16th and 17th centuries, and includes the “Golden Bend,” which is an area with expensive coach houses, double wide mansions and beautiful gardens.

“Keizersgracht,” the second canal in Amsterdam, is the widest of the three major canals and got its name from the Roman Emperor known as “Maximilian.”  This canal lies between Herengracht and Prinsengracht in the city center.

“Prinsengracht” is the longest of the canals and is the fourth in the concentric semi-circle of canals within the city.  This canal was named after the “Prince of Orange” and is home to many canal houses that were built during the Dutch Golden Age.  Many notable buildings are located along this canal, including the Northern Church, Northern Market, the house of Anne Frank and the Western Church, which is Amsterdam’s tallest.  There is also a moment facing Keizersgracht that is called “Homomonument” and was constructed in honor of the gay community within the city.

The newest of the canals to be constructed within the city are called “Zwanenburgwal,” “Brouwersgracht,” “Kloveniersburgwal” and “Lamonggracht.”

Zwanenburgwal is a street and a canal in the city of Amsterdam and was home to the artist Rembrandt and Spinoza, who was an ancient philosopher.  The street with this name was voted one of the most beautiful in Amsterdam and is an area of town that was previously dominated by the textile industry.

Brouwersgracht marks the northern border of the canal belt and connects the canals called Singel, Herengracht, Keizergracht and Prinsengracht!  This canal was used primarily by ships returning to Amsterdam’s port from Asia, transporting silk and other textiles, as well as Asian herbs and spices; therefore, Brouwersgracht was home to many warehouse type storage structures for the shipping industry, but is now home to some of the most expensive apartment residences in the city of Amsterdam, as well as houseboats.

Kloveniersburgwal Canal runs south to the Amstel River at the city’s edge and is home to a few mansions like the Trippenhuis, which houses the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.  This canal was used a lot by the Dutch East India Company since it’s located near the city center and the warehouse used by the company to store various items.

The last of the newest canals is called Lamonggracht and it has 9 metal bridges designed for pedestrians and cyclists to cross over the canal with ease.  All of the newer canals were constructed in 1995 on a man-made island in the IJ Harbor, which is situated northeast of the City of Amsterdam.  This canal is famous for houses located there that are modern interpretations of the classic canal houses of Amsterdam.  Although each of these houses is totally unique, each one is 4 or 5 stories tall and 4.5 meters wide and they are very popular with tourists, despite being off the “beaten path” of tourism within the city.

The unique and historical canals within the City of Amsterdam are used for connecting the city streets and other canals and are very popular tourist attractions for those visiting the beautiful European country of The Netherlands! Read More

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