Netherlands: Canals of Amsterdam

(continuer en français) – Published: October 31, 2021

Amsterdam’s main charm comes from its canals. Without them, wouldn’t it be an ordinary city?

The largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of about 1.5 million, is also a major tourist destination in Europe. The number of visitors has increased in recent years thanks to the high-speed rail links with Paris and London.

Quebec flag, Amsterdam

Artist’s view and reality.

We do not realise that Amsterdam is actually an archipelago of 90 islands separated by 60 miles, 100 kilometres, of canals, linked by more than 1200 bridges and footbridges.

The canals were created in the 17th century, as were constructed many of the old houses that still line them, dwellings or warehouses, converted into lofts.
Sometimes there is not even a quay, the facades open directly onto the water, like in Venice.

The quays form as many terraces, sometimes even extended above the water by a pontoon or a barge.

Four main canals form successive rings around the old town, from which numerous passages connect them according to the needs of urban planning, creating a dense network of boat traffic.

Central Station, Amsterdam

It is possible to cruise the canals in the many bateau mouches or collective boats that leave from various points in the city.

However, it is much classier to have one’s own boat and to venture along the canals on the floating labyrinth.

It is also a local custom to have an aperitif at sunset while navigating through the city.

Paradoxically, although alcohol is accepted on the water, it is strictly forbidden on land outside licensed establishments.

When night comes, the canals become mirrors, letting the lights give them changing appearances, like a show to be followed from the quays that have become promenades.

The canals of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

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13 comments

  1. I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times over the years as I have family that live in the northern part of the Netherlands. It’s such a beautiful city during the day and at night when the canals are all lined with lights. Taking a canal tour is such a great way to see a different side of the city.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are other cities with canals around, but Amsterdam seems to have taken the experience to the next level and it’s a big city with so many other things around the canals. It’s a chance to get to know Amsterdam as a local.

      Liked by 1 person

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