A little less than a thousand years ago some people decided to build a dam on the Amstel River and soon a little fishing village was born around this dam. After a generation or two the village grew into a town and everyone began to call this town by the Amstel’s Dam Amsterdam. About four hundred years ago this country that people started calling The Lowlands had become one of the richest countries in the world and the city’s fathers decided to spruce the place up, build a a number of canals that would ring the city and then build their stately mansions on the shores of these canals. Well, the canals are still there and so are most of the stately mansions. And there is no better way to see the city than to jump into a boat and cruise down the four major canals that form semicircular rings around old Amsterdam. Collectively these canals are called the Grachtengordel.
We were aboard the Avalon Felicity on the sixth day of our week-long cruise down the Rhine River and we awoke that day finding our ship moored on the IJ, Amsterdam’s harbor, right behind Centraal Station, the city’s central train station. The Singel, Amsterdam’s innermost canal, starts at the Train Station and we soon began our cruise down that Canal.
The Avalon Felicity moored on the IJ.
With our Canadian friends Steve and Susan on our comfortable canalboat.
The Webbers from Alberta sat across from us on our canal tour.
Some of the houseboats we passed had interesting displays.
This house proclaims (under the clock) to the world that it was built in 1804.
Our tour took us from the Singel to the Herengracht, the first of the city’s three main semi-circular canals. The Herengracht is often translated as the Patrician’s or Lord’s Canal but our tour guide called it the Gentleman’s Canal. It is named after the wealthy merchants of the Dutch Golden Age who decided to build their magnificent mansions on this canal. The second main canal is called the Keizersgracht, named after Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. The third and longest of the three major canals is the Prinsengracht, named after the Prince of Orange. The present Queen of the Netherlands is a direct descendant of the first Prince of Orange.
Most of the houseboats you encounter on the canals are moored legally and have water, electricity and sewer hook-ups.
Looking through the canalboat’s open roof.
Westerkerk is the tallest building in old Amsterdam. The Anne Frank House is two doors to the left.
Another view of Westerkerk — where Rembrandt is buried.
Hotel Pulitzer on Prinsengracht
I’m sure there is a story behind this US Army boat docked on an Amsterdam canal!
Many small and narrow canals spread out like radii connecting the three major canals of the Grachtengordel: Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht
One of more than 1200 bridges in Amsterdam.
One of seven bridges that span the Golden Bend of the Herengracht, where the city’s wealthiest citizens in the 17th century built their mansions.
Amsterdam is sometimes called “The Venice of the North.”
Ornate additions to an otherwise plain-looking building.
The Stopera, a complex that includes Amsterdam’s city hall and the opera house, overlooks the Amstel River.
The Breitner Restaurant overlooks the Amstel River at its intersection with the Herengracht.
The Blauwbrug (Blue Bridge) connects Rembrandtplein with Waterlooplein.
Passing another canalboat.
Some houseboats can be rented. A few operate as bread and breakfasts.
Bridge + Bikes + Boat = Amsterdam.
Montelbaanstoren was built in 1516 as a defensive city tower. Its decorative top half was completed in 1606.
Modern Dutch architecture
Modern buildings near Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat
Approaching the end of our canal tour. The Gassan Diamond Factory is to the right of these buildings.
These sisters from Australia enjoyed the canal tour. So did we.
Next posting: Our visit to the Gassan Diamond Factory.