The Three Main Canals
Here’s a sample what you might find along each.
The Lord’s Canal was, and still is, home to stately residences all built from brick and stone. The earliest houses in the city were destroyed by fires in medieval times, the last in a large fire in 1597, so architecture for the most part does not pre-date that date even though the city was founded in the 13th century. Watch for the Tunnel of Love, a view of the seven bridges of the Reguiliersgracht. These can be seen one after the other appearing much like a tunnel when viewed from the waterline, and is especially beautiful when lit after dark. The other building of note is the Museum Willet Holthuysen, in which the interior from the 1600’s is still intact and a show onto itself.
The widest canal is the Emperor’s Canal. Many former business-oriented buildings will be found here including the Greenland Warehouses (as in whale hunting products), and the Red Hat (originally a hat maker’s). Watch for the John Adams House, his residence during his ambassadorship years, and the home of Amnesty International, the Coymans House. Most of us will visit Amsterdam in the warm weather months but in winter, this canal freezes over and is used for skating.
Last, but not least, is the Prince’s Canal. Look for the Anne Frank house and museum (not the same building!), the famous Café Papeneiland at Brewer’s Corner, one of the oldest cafés in the city dating from the 1600’s, a houseboat museum, and the stork at the corner of the Reguliersgracht (an old form of advertising midwifery). See if you can spot a five-foot wide canal house of 5 stories. There are many narrow, but tall, houses in Amsterdam necessary from the time when paying tax was based on your canal frontage – but this one narrow should really stand out!