Western Canal Ring
The western half of the Canal Ring, west of the arterial Leidsestraat and heading up to the magnificent reinvented warehouses of Brouwersgracht, was the first canal sector to be built and has miles of gabled residences that reflect most sweetly and surreally in the canal waters below. The intersecting streets have lots of interesting shopping and eating destinations, especially along "The 9 Streets," which run between Raadhuisstraat and Leidsestraat.
This part of the canal ring is quintessential Amsterdam, with many gorgeous canalside homes as well as such museums and landmark buildings as the Anne Frank House, the Westerkerk, the Woonbootmuseum (Houseboat Museum), and Het Huis met de Hoofden (the House with the Heads). The impressive houses that you see along the canal were built for the movers and shakers of the 17th-century Golden Age–-keep in mind that homeowners were taxed on their houses' width, not height. A double frontage and staircase (two adjacent lots) was a great display of wealth. The number of windows facing the canal, as well as the ornate gables and decorative features (such as finely wrought railings), were also indications of the homeowners prestige. While there's considerable scrolling variation from one house to the next, creating the attractively varied and gabled skyline for which Amsterdam is famous, it's very harmonious, and from a historical point of view, remarkably intact. Sixteen hundred buildings along these canals have protected heritage status and, as of 2010, the Canal Ring is officially on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Plan to spend at least a morning or afternoon here exploring, though lovers of historic Amsterdam could easily spend a day or two.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Sint Andrieshofje. The Sint Andrieshofje, built in 1614, is the oldest courtyard almshouse in Amsterdam and famous for its Delfware…Learn More >
Claes Claeszhofje. The Claes Claeszhofje is two joined hofjes: the Zwaardvegershofje (Sword Makers' Hofje) and the three-house hofje founded in…Learn More >
Zevenkeurvorstenhofje. The Zevenkeurvorstenhofje (Seven Electors Court) was founded around 1645, though the houses standing today are from the 18th century.Learn More >