Discover the fascinating & rich history of the country of Holland, also known as The Netherlands.

Amsterdam canal houses and the Amstel river
Amsterdam canal houses
Amsterdam has more than 100 kilometers of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges.

Amsterdam canal houses along the Amstel

 Map of Amstel, Amsterdam:

Amsterdam Short Information Sheet:

There are more than 100 kilometers of canals in Amsterdam, much of the canal system is the successful outcome of city planning. In the early part of the 17th century, with rise in population at a height, a plan was put together to build four main, concentric half-circles of canals with their ends resting on the river IJ. Known as the "grachtengordel" (canal belt) three of the canals are mostly for residential development: Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal); Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal); and Herengracht (Gentleman's Canal), and an outer canal, for purposes of defense and water management. Theses canals gives Amsterdam about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges.

Holland Information Cloud:

Dam Amsterdam, Amsterdam Centraal Holland, Delft, Palace on the Dam

Amsterdam has grown outwards through time in semicircles ever larger and larger from the central point, the Dam. Each semicircle is formed by a broad canal, bordered on both sides by a paved street, in many cases lined with double rows of trees. These semicircles are called Grachten, or Canals, and the most important of them are the Prinsengracht, the Keizersgracht, the Heerengracht, and the Singel. At right angles to these canals, and all converging towards the central point, the Dam, run the smaller streets, in very many cases with canals passing through the centre.

In short, visitors eager for statistics are soon informed, that there are from seventy to eighty of these canals, that they are spanned by nearly three hundred bridges, and that they divide the city into upwards of ninety islands. The outlying parts of the town in the neighbourhood of the Rijks Museum and the Vondelspark, are laid out more in accordance with modern practice.

The houses which line the sides of these canal-streets are tall, often gabled and picturesque, and well calculated to catch the eye and attract the attention of the stranger. In such streets as the Heerengracht, the buildings are often very fine, belonging to wealthy and successful men, like the present Burgomaster of Amsterdam, and not unfrequently being old family mansions, such as that belonging to the Six family.

Holland, country & city | Holland History | Amsterdam History