map

Canal Belt

icon-location-red

0.00/5 - (0 Votes)

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Canals of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

0.00/5 - (0 Votes)
expert
Nong
Local tour guide
"Instead of sticking to the main canals, venture into the smaller side canals later in the afternoon for a tranquil experience; that's when you'll find the true charm of Amsterdam's Canal Belt, away from the crowds. Also, keep an eye out for the 'sunken' houseboat near the Amstel River – it’s a quirky local landmark not marked on tourist maps, and a perfect unusual photo opportunity."

What is Canal Belt?

The Canal Belt, known as 'Grachtengordel' in Dutch, is the iconic network of canals that circle the heart of Amsterdam. Imagine strolling along or sailing through these serene waterways, lined with historic, gabled buildings, each one telling a story of the city's rich mercantile past. This picturesque area is not just about beauty; it represents a unique urban and historical value, and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2010.

Our Most Popular Tour:

All-Inclusive
Mexico City Wine Tour: Hidden Valley Vineyards

For vacationing wine lovers, this day tour in Mexico City combines an exclusive wine tasting experience and education about Mexican winemaking at the Vineyards ...

US$289/pp Learn more

No visit to Amsterdam is complete without experiencing the charm that exudes from the cobblestone paths and the reflections of the soft light on the water during twilight. These waterways were thoughtfully designed in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, and to this day, they provide an unparalleled atmosphere, enchanting visitors from all around the world.

The main canals, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht, form concentric belts around the city, known as the Grachtengordel. Alongside them are countless smaller canals, bridged by over 1,500 bridges, creating a seemingly endless path to explore and discover this Dutch jewel of engineering and aesthetics.

History of Canal Belt

The history of the Canal Belt is intertwined with the growth and prosperity of Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age. In the early 17th century, as Amsterdam grew into one of the world's most important ports and trading cities, it became clear that an expansion plan was necessary. The city was congested, and land was at a premium. To tackle this, a comprehensive urban plan was conceived around 1613 to expand Amsterdam, resulting in the creation of the Canal Belt. This wasn't simply functional; it was a display of wealth and municipal pride.

It was revolutionary urban planning for its time, combining water management, transportation, and city expansion plans into one. Land was reclaimed, canals were dug, and the entire city breathed a new life of organization and splendor.

What's fascinating is that these canals also served as a defense line, water management system, and residential area for the wealthy merchants who built their impressive homes along the waterways. Amsterdammers have always been known to be pragmatic and this multi-purpose use of space reflects that spirit.

Why is Canal Belt Important?

The importance of the Canal Belt goes beyond its aesthetic appeal; it's emblematic of Amsterdam's historical significance as a trading city. It represents the zenith of urban expansion in the 17th century when Amsterdam was at the forefront of global commerce. The design of the Canal Belt shows an exceptional level of city planning for its time, with a structured and organized layout that facilitated trade, transportation, and social order.

This heritage is not only significant for the Dutch but also for its contribution to world history, urban planning, and architecture. The concept of using canals as a means for city expansion was innovative and successful, fostering a cityscape unique in its coherence and beauty. And the successful fusion of the pragmatic with the beautiful in urban design is a legacy that continues to influence how we think about city living and planning today.

Breathe in the history that's still alive and palpable as you walk or float along the canals. You're retracing the paths of merchants and adventurers from centuries past, making the Canal Belt not just important, but a living museum of Dutch history and ingenuity.

Things to Do & See at Canal Belt

There's an abundance of activities to do and sights to see within the Canal Belt. You could easily spend a day or a week here and still find new treasures at each turn. A quintessential experience is, of course, to take a canal cruise. Seeing Amsterdam from the water offers a different perspective and allows you to appreciate the architectural details and harmony of the city's layout. I often suggest to visitors to take a tour during the evening when the canals are lit up, providing a magical atmosphere that's truly unforgettable.

Our Top Trending United States Tours:

  • All-Inclusive

    Chicago Foodie Tour: Windy City Favs

    US$239/pp Learn more
  • All-Inclusive

    Chicago Downtown Highlights Private Walking Tour

    US$189/pp Learn more
  • All-Inclusive

    San Francisco Walking Instagram Tour

    US$149/pp Learn more

For those who prefer a leisurely stroll, walking the length of the canals reveals hidden courtyards, boutique shops, and cozy cafés where you can sample local delicacies or simply people-watch. If you're a history enthusiast, visiting the Museum Van Loon and the Willet-Holthuysen Museum, both located in historic canal houses, offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of Amsterdam's wealthy 17th-century merchants.

Fancy something a bit more contemporary? The Canal Belt is also home to the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes) shopping area, where you can find everything from vintage fashion to avant-garde design. And remember, every canal has its unique characteristics and stories. Ask about the Seven Bridges view at the Reguliersgracht, or why the house at Singel 7 is astonishingly narrow. These tidbits add layers to your experience of Amsterdam's Canal Belt, making it not just a visit, but a journey through time and creativity.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Canal Belt in Amsterdam?

The Canal Belt, also known as the Grachtengordel, is a historic district in Amsterdam characterized by a network of canals that were built during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. The area is iconic for its cultural and historical value and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

How can I explore the Canal Belt in Amsterdam?

Visitors can explore the Canal Belt by walking along the streets and bridges, taking a guided tour, or enjoying a boat tour on the canals to see the beautiful architecture and learn about the city's history.

What are some must-see sights along the Canal Belt?

Must-see sights along the Canal Belt include the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the historic Westerkerk, and the Jordaan neighborhood with its boutiques and eateries.

Are there any special events or festivals in the Canal Belt?

The Canal Belt hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, such as King's Day celebrations in April, the Amsterdam Light Festival in winter, and the Prinsengracht Concert in August.

Where can I find the best photo opportunities in the Canal Belt?

Popular photography spots in the Canal Belt include the intersection of Brouwersgracht and Herengracht, the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) on the Amstel river, and views from the bridges crossing the Keizersgracht.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Canals of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps