Canals & Houseboats, Amsterdam
Amsterdam slowly is transforming into a greener canal belt.
The canal boats will be transformed into electrical boats with no exhaust fumes.
The goal is to get a 40% CO2-emissieon reduction in 2025
Also in the newest canal houses renovation projects; green is the startpoint.
During the 2013 Heritage days I visited the pilot project at the Nieuwe Prinsengracht 43-53, where a series of historic canal houses was being renovated and turned into energy label A buildings.
The following things are being implemented:
-Solar panels n the roofs
-Plants on the roofs
-Warm water heat storage
-Outside air warmth extraction
-Central air condition with heat storage
-Isolation of floor, walls and roofs
-High rendement heater
More information at the website www.degroenegrachten.nl.
Favorite thing: Just below roof level, most of the canal circle townhouses have an external hoist used in centuries past to bring heavy items to upper floors, as seen throughout Europe. Elsewhere on the facade there are often pictures related to the occupant's business or personal symbol. Also worth looking for when walking through the city, and particularly on the canals.
Amsterdam is a city of canals - waterways are said to occupy 25% of the surface of the city. Beautiful and scenic at every turn, they are one of the great joys of visiting. Canals did not appear at random but are the result of conscious city planning. Early on, the city was surrounded by the broad Singel canal, used for managing water flow and as a defensive moat. In the Golden Age of the 1600's with over 400 ships arriving and leaving per annum, the city size grew beyond the existing canal system. City managers developed a plan for three additional concentric canals predominantly for residences surrounded by an outside canal for defense, the Singelgracht, with construction spanning 50 years (1613-56). In addition, parallel canals were planned for what today is the Jordaan district, some of the most beautiful in the city. In 2101 these canals were granted UNESCO World Heritage status. Every bend in the Herengracht (Patrician's Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal ) and particularly the Jordaan canals brings a new vista. Planning is not necessary to see lots of canal vistas - just walking through the city will more than suffice.
Herengracht, named after the city administrators, is home to some of the most expensive townhouses, doublewides in the U portion of the canal, often block through to the Keizersgracht with inside gardens.
Keizersgracht is named after Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and is the widest canal.
Prinsengracht is the longest canal, named after the Prince of Orange.
Very few waterways have been filled in over the years. The Amstel of course has become the Damrak. The Spui was formerly a waterway, and several smaller canals were closed to accomodate vehicular traffic in the 20th C. The only king to close a canal was also the only king to actually live in Amsterdam. Louis I, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, closed a canal behind the Palace because the stench was so offensive his sensitive wife could not sleep.
Amsterdam is famous for its canal houses, whose history date back to as far as the 17th century, when Amsterdam was a prospering trade city. Canal houses served both as homes as well as work places or storage buildings.
They are often specified by their gabels, which come in several forms like bottle, step, spout and many more. Also the facade is usually topped by a hoist with a hook to lift up bulky goods to the upper levels of the building.
Amsterdam's canal district with its canal houses was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.
Most of Amsterdam's canal houses can be found in the so called canal district (Grachtengordel) which is the area around the following canals Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsensgracht.
Favorite thing: This being my third time in Amsterdam, it was a total surprise to me to see the difference that a season makes. Before I had been in summer and spring, now it was winter and from the photos you can see that it was late afternoon, but almost as dark as night. Nothing was moving on the canals, no animals, no boats, either hiding from the snow and ice, or frozen in it. As Diana (Dila) showed me around to some of her favorite spots, we found also that we had to make short stops to warm up with hot chocolate...
Amsterdam is often called "the Venice of the North" because of its more than 100 km of CANALS and 1500 bridges. The three main canals Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, were dug in the 17th century during the Dutch golden Age.
Canal-tour boats can often be seen along the waterways and is a very popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam.
To me, the Canals is the most charming part of the city, along with the varied and unique buildings along the canals.
Favorite thing: The Dutch like their homes to be *gezellig* or cosy!! And that certainly is the general feeling when you look into those big basement windows! It is quite usual to see groups of friends or families sitting together eating and drinking and having a nice time together. Their homes look very well cared for and clean and comfortable. I love seeing cyclists of all ages, male and females, cycling home late in the afternoon with huge bunches of flowers to brighten their living rooms or loos! :))
I came across this interesting bluey/green building which I later discovered is a housing developement office, I love the colour and shape and it's one of the most unusual buildings I have seen.
The building was designed by Steven Holl - Architects.
Many thanks to my VT friend maartenw for this information!
One of the more attractive aspects of Amsterdam is the array of houseboats. When one thinks of all the canals in Amsterdam and consider the fact that there is actually little in the way of space in the city centre, one should not be surprised that thousands of locals have decided to live on the canals themselves. There are more than 2,400 families now living in these houseboats. They are quite lovely homes and most are located in the more picturesque neighborhoods of Amsterdam. This of course means they are quite expensive to own considering their location along with the expense of maintaining them.
It is possible for tourists to stay on a houseboat during their stay in Amsterdam. Personally I would only recommend this if you are staying Amsterdam for an extensive period as rates are considerably reduced over the time of your stay. There are seemingly countless internet connections to wevsites offering deals for houseboat stays.
You know I thought Amsterdam was all about drugs and prostitution but I was shocked. It is one of the most beatiful and cleanest cities I have been to! The canal tour at night time was fantastic. We dined and cruised at the same time and it gave us a chance to try some authentic Amsterdam food! Excellent!!
Fondest memory: The trip around the city and the windmill. Fantastic!
The big reasons why I love Amsterdam so much. The huge network of canals, narrow streets, the wide bigger canals, you can wander around for hours, find a cafe here and a pub there, just sit down and enjoy the city for a while, watch the boats on the canals, touristy and local.
And then the houseboats, my big dream to have such a floating home with a terrasse to have a party with friends or just relax and read a book... I still haven't made it to the Houseboat Museum, it's closed on Mondays... Whenever I see a great looking houseboat -or see an old one that needs refurbishing - I think about the big "what if", or simply the "when..."
The streets in Amsterdam seem (mostly) wide and open, bright, with trees and light. Not like Venice, which is similar with its canals and nice old houses. But everything seems to be cramped and old and run down and smelly, it's just stones and water... I don't like Venice. But I love Amsterdam!!
Favorite thing: They're all over the place and just beautiful. Some are crooked - don't worry, it's not you. (Even if you have been in a coffeeshop.) I never got tired of walking around this city and looking at these.
Favorite thing: Maybe it's cliche, but the canals - lined with the beautiful canal houses - is one of the best things about Amsterdam. Such a unique postcard beauty, it's hard to walk by without stopping on every bridge to have a look around!
The dutch word for canal is "gracht". Therefore, the name of the canals ends in "..gracht".
Singelgrachtl - The Singel, Amsterdam's innermost canal, the narrowest circle of the half-moons of canals. Its name means ring or belt and it marked the boundary of the medieval town. Before 17th century, the Singel was merely a ditch separating the town walls from the gardens and lawns of Amsterdam's immediate outskirts. This wide, windy canal was heavily urbanized as from the second half of the 17th century.
Herrengracht - The Gentlemen's Canal, like the other canals called the Keizergracht and the Prinsengracht, dates from 1612, when it was decided too dig a concentric series of canals surrounding the centre of the city. On the sides of the Herrengracht are the aristocratic dwellings of the richest families in Amsterdam who once favoured this part of the city. The richest merchants competed with another for the most beautiful or largest house. Over 400 houses on Herrengracht are considered national monuments. They are mainly banks or offices as their maintenance is too expensive for private ownership.
Keizergracht - The Emperor's Canal owes its name to the Maximilian I, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. Keizergracht connects the Amstel to Brouwergracht. Its houses are not as impressive as those on the parallel Herrengracht, but still they keep the charm.
Prinsengracht - It is the most popular of Amsterdam's main canals and the outermost ring of its semicircumference. In fact, Princes Canal marks the outer boundary of the centre of Amsterdam.
Favorite thing: The canals in Amsterdam not only served as conduits to the sea, they also are a great way to get around. People even live on the canals in often expensive and trendy houseboats (you can rent them for visits). Another plus is that there are countless bridges spanning the canals throughout the city providing picturesque vantage points to watch the world go by.