Thursday, July 18, 2013

Icons of Amsterdam: The Canals

Amsterdam has often been nicknamed as the Venice of the North due to the countless canals that criss-cross the city. Amsterdam lies well below sea level and the Dutch folk spent centuries draining their land and trying to keep water at bay and nowadays their efforts are still visible in many corners of the Netherlands. From the polders - rectangular extensions of agricultural land separated by parallel canals - to the windmills; from the the traditional tall houses build on pillars to the typical urban planning that has moulded almost every city and town around a system of draining canals.


Many a cobbled street with guilded houses on both sides and a canal in the middle and a handful of bridges overlooking each canal. Amsterdam's canals are strikingly beautiful. So lively when the sun shines and dozens of boats and ships sail along, so romantic at dusk with many small lights twinkling at every bridge and so melancholic when it drizzles non-stop and there's a light mist in the air. This is probably the most quintessential image of Amsterdam and the canals, especially in the city centre, attract thousands of tourist a day.


Amsterdam is enjoying a glorious 2013 with more anniversaries and special events together that the city could ever hope for. The Rijksmuseum opening its doors again after being closed for renovation works during 10 years and the Van Gogh Museum is turning 40 - and Vincent van Gogh would be blowing out 160 candles if he would still live. The Dutch royals are celebrating their first 200 years on the throne and greeted a new king unexpectedly. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra marks its 125th anniversary, while the Artis Royal Zoo turns 225 years old. And the iconic canals will also play a lead role in all these celebrations as the canal ring has been standing there for 400 years.

The ring canal was developed in the early 17th century and the most famous canals are Herengracht (Gentlemen's canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor's canal) and Prinsesgracht (Prince's canal). Each of these canals has its own style and distinctive bridges and al of them are lined by elegant guilded houses which once belonged to wealthy Amsterdam artists and merchants. These three concentric canals surround the city center and in 2010 were added to the UNESCO's World Heritage List.





Amsterdam has long inspired many artists of all kind and its canals have been no exception as this popular Dutch song proves!

6 comments:

  1. Vaya! ya veo que también aquí les ha dado por lo de los candados...qué lástima!Me parece una ciudad muy bonita en fotos, me quedo con muchas ganas de conocerla en persona. Y además veo que también hace buen tiempo( algo por lo que siempre me dejo llevar a la hora de elegir un destino) Muy interesante lo de los distintos puentes.Bsinss, Irene:)

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    1. Ya ves, es una epidemia! No hay puente que dejen tranquilo jejejje
      La verdad que Ámsterdam es una ciudad que merece la pena visitar y ya ves que este año, con tanta celebración, parece ser el indicado!

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  2. Irene, I didn't realize how extensive their canals were. So gorgeous! I wish we had something as beautiful here. Thanks for bringing it to us.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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    1. Yes, they're really ubiquitous, especially in this part of Europe so flat and close to the sea!

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  3. I remember seeing images of Amsterdam's canals in a glossy and colorful old calendar when I was kid. Since then I have always been fascinated by them. Truly gorgeous!

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    1. The canals are really beautiful, especially on a summer day, but I'm always attracted to the delicate houses on the sides!

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