Just keeping looking up to those nice old houses and their history. It's just amazing that it's a thing of all centuries. It's like a living history book, where the Amsterdam streets are the pages and the houses the lines.
The Jordaan city quarter was developed to house the many tradesmen the city needed, when trading developed in the Golden Age. At the Lindengracht there are gable sign that still reflects the old trades.
The number of Gable Stones looks unlimited!
The more I take photo's of these stones, the more I think of designing an easy walking route for visitors to Amsterdam interested in the subject and the history of the houses.
Just another series of Amsterdam Gable stones. This is just a tip of one in a row.
I recommend to just take a four hours walk in the Amsterdam canal belt and a part of the Jordaan city quarter. Even the RLD has some nice gable stones.
There is an old (unconfirmed) story that Amsterdam was founded by two men who arrived at the mouth of Amstel river after the land was flooded by storms.
The two men with their dog in a boat still can be found at some Amsterdam gables.
The Central Station stone reads:
Daar Vonkt een dierbre gloed
in eigen huis en haard
Neemt men vandaar zijn vlucht
met sterk gespierde vleuglen
De wijze weet zijn kracht
te vieren en de teuglen
Hij kent de weelde hem
in 't welkom thuis bewaard
If I wrote somewhere enthusiast reviews about architecture in France, Italy, Spain, England, I don't feel motivated by the architecture of Amsterdam. Certainly very typical but nothing monumental as one sees along the avenues of Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Budapest or Venice.
The houses of Amsterdam are very "middle class" for the simple reason I think that they were not build by noblemen who wanted to show their power and richness like in the other European countries but by the merchants of a Calvinist republic.
No Versailles, no Buckingham Palace, no Schönbrunn in Amsterdam!
The citizens of the Gouden Eeuw were actually working hard, discreet about their money, preferring to decorate the inside of their houses with these wonderful Dutch paintings and porcelain decorative objects.
Much of the Amsterdam canal houses were built in or after the 17th century. These townhouses or merchant houses served as a residence as well as a workshop. They are often characterized by the facade and entrance, the door above the stairs was for high visit, the door under the stairs for staff and vendors. Because space was scarce, the houses are often narrow and high, with a lifting beam just below the roof furniture. Furthermore as the city was built on piles in the mud it is not surprising that so many houses have problems with verticality.
On an evening I made a walk along the Prinsengracht to take photos of some of these houses. I wonder how people live in such houses with floors that are far from horizontal.
One thing you will see on many Amsterdam houses are hoisting beams with a hook.
As most of the canal houses have small steep stairs, furniture and other large objects have to be hoisted in front of the house and loaded via the window.
Don't be surprised to see a rope hanging from the top to street level. The chance is something BIG has to be moved.
I'd noted on my first visit that many of the older buildings in Amsterdam's historical centre were 'wonky': slightly out of true. That is hardly surprising, given the city's high water-table and resulting soft soil plus the fact that many (?most?) of the older buildings were constructed on wooden pilings.
But those buildings are historically important and, I suspect, there are rules and regulations about exactly what can and cannot be done to them in terms of modernisation and general building work. I'm no builder but I imagine there are times when under-pinning the foundations with concrete has been essential. That is probably what keeps those buildings which are very 'wonky' still standing.
I noticed that the very impressive gables ..built simply towers of brick with nothing supporting them...are now often tied to the building structure by metal rods.
The most extreme example of 'coping with wonkiness' that I spotted was the chimney in the main photo. It's amazing that it's still standing at all but the network of metal strips and rods is presumably holding it safely in position. I hope!
When you think about it, building in stone on such land (from the late 1500s onwards) is pretty impressive engineering, as was the draining of so much land by the use of dykes and ditches. The Dutch had a very good reputation as land engineers. That's why so many...including Cornelius Vermuyden....were involved in draining the Fens in East Anglia (UK) during the mid 1600s.
It's clear they are still equally adept at stabilising buildings and structures on land which is prone to subsidence.
The Amsterdam gables hide many things of beauty.
Take time to explore the walls of the houses.
The gablestones are being protected by the "Vereniging Vrienden van Amsterdamse Gevelstenen".
As we were traveling through the canals, they pointed out that most of the houses had hooks suspended from the top of them called hijsbalk, used with a rope and pulley to hoist large, heavy items in and out of homes that have steep, narrow staircases.
The narrowest house in the world is to be found on the Singel, no.7. Only one metre in breadth, it is barely wider than the front door. The people who live there have to be slim! However in the reality only the front side is so narrow. Behind this facade the house broadens out to more normal dimensions.
Yet the narrowest house in Europe is still to be found in Amsterdam on Oude Hoogstraat 22, between the Dam and the Nieuwmarkt. This house is 2.02m wide and 6.0 metres deep. Another narrow house is located nearby, on the Kloveniersburgwal 26, Mr Trip's Coachman's House, 2.44m wide. This latest one is very special, because its location is opposite of the widest house (26m) of Amsterdam.