2013 Marks the 400 year Anniversary of Amsterdam Canals

2013 is a very special year for Amsterdam!
400th Anniversary of the Canal Belt
125th Anniversary of the Concertgebouw and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
225th Anniversary of the enlightenment at Felix Meritus
175th Anniversary of the Royal Artis Zoo
The long awaited re-opening of the Rijksmuseum will take place.

We’ll be bringing you news of all of these events but we want to start with the most iconic representation of the city of Amsterdam – namely the fabulous canal belt – now recognised as a World Heritage site.

View of the Prinsengracht at The Nine Streets in Amsterdam
Prinsengracht canal at The Nine Streets in Amsterdam

When Amsterdam rose out of the water and became a prominent port and merchant shipping city it was circa 1400, the first canal – the Singel was in place and marked the very boundary of early Amsterdam.

Night view of Oudezijds Voorburgwal from the Grimburgwal
Night view of the Oudezijds Voorburgwal from the Grimburgwal

It was not until 1613, due to the expanding population that the remaining three canals started to be built. Contrary to popular belief they were not built one at a time. The Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht were started at the northwest end of the Singel and were constructed in a swathe around the the city. The workers for this grand project lived in hastily constructed slums lining the ditches of the now exclusive and gentrified Jordaan district!

View of Egelantiersgracht in the Jordaan Amsterdam
View of Egelantiersgracht in the Jordaan Amsterdam

The grachtenhuis or canal houses were built on a fabulously grand scale for the many merchants, bankers and burgermeesters (mayors) of Amsterdam – this was to be Amsterdam’s Golden Age, in it’s prime, one of the richest cities in the world.
‘People’ still say today that Amsterdam is a city of shopkeepers – it has always been a city based on trade and commerce – it was here in 1602 that the world’s very first stock exchange was created.
When the beautiful mansion houses were built, the merchants decorated them with the finest paintings, furniture and fabrics to be found anywhere in the world.

Interior of the Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis on the Keizersgracht
Interior of the Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis on the Keizersgracht

The patronage of the arts by these wealthy merchants is no doubt the reason why The Netherlands produced some of the greatest artists of this period. A visit to the Rijksmuseum illustrates just how prolific and talented they were.
To celebrate this year of the canals – what better way to view them than from the water – a bespoke tour is easily arranged with Water Taxi. The larger canals are well travelled and stunning to view but we’re suggesting something much more evocative.
Slowly meander around the smaller canals of the Jordaan and you’ll glimpse how beautiful the city and it’s smaller ‘villages’ really are. Tailor made canal trips with private dinner or snacks are also available – this is truly is bespoke service – almost anything is possible.

Bespoke canal boat tours with Water Taxi
Bespoke canal boat tours with Water Taxi

Where To Shop:
The Nine Streets district literally criss crossed all the canals forming nine small streets – home to many of Amsterdam’s best independent shops and designer boutiques – this is a must visit!

Van Ravenstein Boutique on the Keizersgracht Amsterdam, NL
Van Ravenstein Boutique on the Keizersgracht

Whilst planning your trip to Amsterdam this year – there really is another question you must ask before you book – is the hotel overlooking the canals?

Where To Stay On Amsterdam’s Canals:

We’ve selected our favourites – each has a unique atmosphere and ALL overlook the canal and are in The Nine Streets shopping district.
Ambassade Hotel
10 canalside 17th C merchant houses have been converted to this luxury hotel
Hotel Estherea
4 canalside 17th C merchant houses have been converted to this family run boutique hotel
Amsterdam Hotel Weichmann
Charming family run hotel overlooking the Prinsengracht
Canal House Apartment for Hire
Three bedroomed apartment overlooking the Singel canal