The voices of the people sitting in the various cafes that are in the area, the sound of the wheels of bicycles going through the different bridges, the towers of the clocks placing the bells on top of them, the tourists and the boats walking and overflowing that tranquility and romanticism characteristic of the Amsterdam canals.
Amsterdam is often called the Venice of the North because of its 160 characteristic channels that run through the city forming concentric belts. Along these canals, numerous monuments are raised and are crossed by more than 1200 bridges, among those some drawbridges, surpassing Paris by much difference. These structures are the stereotypical image of the city, an emblem for many who dream of visiting it or who finally manage to know it.
The canal belt area of Amsterdam is where the cultural life of the city is concentrated, and it is one of the most beautiful and characteristic areas to visit. These channels have a depth of between 2 and 3 meters and are one of the most important tourist attractions in the Netherlands.
Approximately one-third of the territory of the Netherlands is below sea level or at sea level. Over time, the Netherlands has been characterized by dikes, windmills and canals, which are still used today to keep water out of the ground. The capital is not the exception. The main canals built in the center of the city have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010, making them one of the most interesting places to see.
The main channels are Keizersgracht, Singel, Prinsengracht and Herengracht, although there are many more. The smaller channels usually take names of the offices and occupations of those who lived or worked there. Grachtengordel is the denomination of the ring of the three most important channels of Amsterdam. It was designed in the seventeenth century to withstand the increase in population.
The channels can be covered in a short walk, where a guide will comment about the places that are being crossed. Another option is to take the boat early in the morning to make the most out of your time and make the corresponding stops in the museums. However, there is a wide variety of services, renting pedal boats or those called water bicycles is another option. There are also extensive excursions up to four hours with meals included, while other cruises only make a generalized tour.
There are those that include a catering, specially designed for celebrations, with the possibility of taking champagne or tasting a good cake on board. Others are designed for young people, where “party” is the keyword. Even some companies rent more modest boats with a maximum capacity of ten people. And if you prefer it, you can also take a night cruise as a couple and try a candlelight dinner while the boat travels the canals.
In this area of Amsterdam, there are many things to do and it is ideal to combine it with other activities. Among the most important attractions that are found along the canals is the famous Anne Frank House Museum, the Museum of the Canals and the unmissable Floating Flower Market. At the end of the canal, the belt you will find the entertainment center of Amsterdam, Leidseplein.
Something that is always advisable for any traveler is to appreciate Amsterdam from the water. You will find various companies that perform different types of cruises through the channels, including dinner trips or open bars. The walks along the canals allow you to contemplate the beauty of this city, which major architecture follows a medieval and neo-baroque style.
In addition to the wonderful cityscapes, the houseboats on the canals of Amsterdam are perhaps the most curious attraction of the ride. There are about 80 residences mounted on boats throughout the city, housing families with much comfort and refinement. These help the economy and the city over all, since it does not occupy space on the solid ground.
As a curiosity, the vaults of the National Bank of Holland are in the depth of the canals. In case of an emergency, a flood will end the threat.
In any case, the channels are an image closely linked to the Dutch capital and that which will be recorded in our retinas when we close our eyes and rest from the intense day on the streets of Amsterdam. What is certain is that anyone visiting Amsterdam cannot miss a walk through the magical canals to discover the secrets of the city that made water a valuable resource.
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