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A Canal Ride Through Amsterdam

When you picture Amsterdam, what inevitably springs to mind are its canals. As they traverse the city all over the place, you are bound to cross several bridges whenever you go for a stroll here. Any number of snapshots with you standing on bridges are also likely to feature among your holiday photos. The capital of Holland has over 100 canals, and the ones bounded by the Singelgracht canal were listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010. But, do you know the story behind them?

The Origins

Amsterdam’s fabulous network of canals dates from the 17th century, when marked urban population growth sparked by the arrival of waves of immigrants required the city to be enlarged. At that time Amsterdam was one of the wealthiest cities in the world, thanks to the huge volume of goods from all over the planet that were moved in and out of its harbour.

The urban extension works were based on a plan that called for land to be reclaimed from the sea by draining the neighbouring marshes. Arranged in concentric circles, the canals were built in two stages. In the first stage, which lasted from 1613 to 1625, the north-west sector was laid. The Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals were earmarked for residential housing projects, while the encircling Singelgracht canal was designated for defence and water control works. During the second stage, which began in 1660, the southern sector starting from Leidsegracht was laid out.

For those who would like to learn more about the subject, we recommend you check out Museum Het Grachtenhuis, the museum dedicated to the canals of Amsterdam.

Boat Rides Along the Canals

Getting about the city by boating along the canals is a great way of sightseeing in Amsterdam. It also affords interesting views of the beautiful buildings lining the canals, prompting stopovers to visit some of the major landmarks, like the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House Museum, the House of Anne Frank and the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) – where flowers are sold from stalls on houseboats – all from a new perspective. There are various options, from a classic tourist boat with audioguides in several languages to a full boat rental for a small group. One of the most magical moments for plying the canals is at dusk, with its amazing interplay of light, providing the best picture postcard views of the city.

Don’t miss the chance to enjoy Amsterdam and its canals – book your Vueling here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Per Salomonsson

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