Canals of Amsterdam


Canals of Amsterdam

The more than one hundred kilometers of canals in Amsterdam, about 90 islands and 1500 bridges have led the city to being termed the "Venice of the North".cite web
url= http://www.amsterdamhotspots.nl/architecture.html
title= Amsterdamhotspots.nl
accessdate = 2007-04-19
] cite web
url= http://www.amsterdamtourist.nl/en/home/Feel+the+Rhythm/Pop++Jazz+++World+music/article/xp/content_artikel.enfeelmusicevent-jazz-sevenbridgesfestival/default.aspx
title= Amsterdam Tourist Information - Seven Bridges Festival
accessdate = 2007-04-19
] cite web
url= http://www.worldexecutive.com/cityguides/amsterdam/
title= World Executive City Guides - Amsterdam
accessdate = 2007-04-19
] cite web
url= http://www.worldmayor.com/essays06/amsterdam_essay06.html
title= WorldMayor.com - Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam 2006
accessdate = 2007-04-19
] The three main canals Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, dug in the 17th century, during the Dutch Golden Age, form a concentric belt around the city, known as the "grachtengordel". Alongside the main canals are 1550 monumental buildings. [cite web
title = Monumenten Amsterdam
work = Monumenten en Archeologie Amsterdam
publisher = City of Amsterdam
url = http://www.bmz.amsterdam.nl/adam/uk/intro/intro.html
accessdate = 2008-02-22
]

History

Much of the Amsterdam canal system is the successful outcome of city planning. In the early part of the 17th century, with immigration at a height, a comprehensive plan was put together, calling for four main, concentric half-circles of canals with their ends resting on de IJ bay. Known as the "grachtengordel", [ [http://www.jlgrealestate.com/English/Amsterdam/Grachtengordel/ Grachtengordel ] ] three of the canals are mostly for residential development (Herengracht or ‘’Gentleman's Canal’’; Keizersgracht or ‘’Emperor's Canal’’; and Prinsengracht or ‘’Prince's Canal’’), and a fourth, outer canal, the present Nassau/Stadhouderskade, for purposes of defense and water management. The plan also envisaged interconnecting canals along radii; a set of parallel canals in the Jordaan quarter (primarily for the transportation of goods, for example, beer); the conversion of an existing, inner perimeter canal (Singel) from a defensive purpose to residential and commercial development; and more than one hundred bridges. The defensive purpose of the Nassau/Stadhouderskade was served by moat and earthen dikes, with gates at transit points but otherwise no masonry superstructures. [cite book| last = Taverne| first = E. R. M.| title = In ‘t land van belofte, in de nieue stadt: ideaal en werkelijkheid van de stadsuitleg in de Republiek, 1580-1680 (In the land of promise, in the new city: ideal and reality of the city lay-out in the [Dutch] Republic, 1580-1680)| publisher = Schwartz| date = 1978| location = Maarssen| isbn = 90-6179-024-7]

Construction proceeded from west to east, across the breadth of the lay-out, like a gigantic windshield wiper as the historian Geert Mak calls it – "not" from the center outwards as a popular myth has it. Construction of the north-western sector was started in 1613 and was finished around 1625. After 1664, building in the southern sector was started, although slowly because of an economic depression. The eastern part of the concentric canal plan, covering the area between the Amstel river and the IJ bay, was not implemented for a long time. In the following centuries, the land went mostly for park, the Botanical garden, old age homes, theaters and other public facilities – and for waterways without much plan. [cite book| last = Mak| first = G.| title = Een kleine geschiedenis van Amsterdam| publisher = Uitgeverij Atlas| date = 1995| location = Amsterdam/Antwerp| isbn = 90-450-1232-4] Several parts of the city and of the urban area are polders, recognisable by their postfix "-meer" meaning 'lake', such as Aalsmeer, Bijlmermeer, Haarlemmermeer, and Watergraafsmeer.

Notable canals in the Canal Belt

Inward to outward, the canals are as follows:

ingel

The Singel encircled the city in the Middle Ages. It served as a moat around the city from 1480 until 1585, when Amsterdam expanded beyond the Singel. The canal runs from the IJ bay, near Central Station, to the Muntplein square, where it meets the Amstel river. It is now the inner-most canal in Amsterdam's semicircular ring of canals. The canal should not be confused with the Singelgracht canal, which became the outer limit of the city during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th Century.

Herengracht

The Herengracht (Gentleman's Canal) is is the first of the three major canals in the city centre of Amsterdam. The most fashionable part is called the Golden Bend, with many double wide mansions, inner gardens and coach houses on the Keizersgracht. [cite web
title = Monumenten Amsterdam
work = Monumenten en Archeologie Amsterdam
publisher = City of Amsterdam
url = http://www.bmz.amsterdam.nl/cgi-bin/database.pl
accessdate = 2007-04-15
]

Keizersgracht

The Keizersgracht (literal English translation: Emperor's Canal) is the second and the widest of the three major canals in the city centre of Amsterdam, in between the Herengracht and the Prinsengracht. It is named after Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.

Prinsengracht

The Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal) is the fourth and the longest of the main canals in Amsterdam. Most of the canal houses along it were built during the Dutch Golden Age of the United Provinces. The bridges over this canal don't connect with the streets in the Jordaan.

Interesting sights along the Prinsengracht include the Noorderkerk (Northern Church), the Noordermarkt (Northern Market), the Anne Frank House, the Westerkerk (Western Church, Amsterdam's tallest church) with the Homomonument (Gay Monument).

Other notable canals

Zwanenburgwal

The Zwanenburgwal is a canal and street in the center of Amsterdam. The painter Rembrandt and philosopher Spinoza lived here. In 2006 it was voted one of the most beautiful streets in Amsterdam by readers of "Het Parool", a local daily newspaper. [ [http://www.parool.nl/dossiers/mooistestraat/100606.html Het Parool: Mooiste Amsterdamse straat] (Dutch)]

The Zwanenburgwal flows from the Sint Antoniessluis sluice gate (between the streets Sint Antoniesbreestraat and Jodenbreestraat) to the Amstel river. The canal was originally named "Verversgracht" ("dyers' canal"), after the textile industry that once dominated this part of town. Dyed textiles were hung to dry along the canal.

Brouwersgracht

The Brouwersgracht is a canal in the city centre of Amsterdam and is part of the canal belt connecting the Singel, Herengracht, Keizergracht and Prinsengracht and marks the northern border of the canal belt. The Brouwersgracht was voted the most beautiful street in Amsterdam by readers of "Het Parool", a local daily newspaper.

Kloveniersburgwal

The Kloveniersburgwal is a canal running south from Nieuwmarkt to the river Amstel on the edge of the medieval city. The east side became populated in the 17th century and has a few rich mansions: like the Trippenhuis, now housing the KNAW. The Kloveniersburgwal was popular with administrators at the Dutch East India Company, being close to its nerve center on Oude Hoogstraat and its warehouse. In one of these buildings a youth hostel is located.

References


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