Amsterdam the city on water is famous for its canals and museums. There could hardly be a better way of discovering the “Dutch Venice”. The boat’s time-table lets a person stop and get off as many times as one wish.
The three 17th-century canals one explore through Herengracht (Gentlemen’s Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal), and Prinsengracht (Princes’ Canal) are the very heart of Golden Age Amsterdam, emblems of the city’s wealth and pride in its heyday. One stroll by the side of miles of tree-lined canals and pass innumerable old canal houses with gables in various styles (bell, step, neck, and variations), classical facades, warehouses converted to apartments, houseboats, bridges, museums, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, offbeat stores, and battered bikes secured to lampposts.
West India House is the 17th-century headquarters of the Dutch West India Company that handled trade (including the slave trade) between Holland, the Americas, and Africa later became the offices of a social-welfare organization, and a Lutheran orphanage, and 18th-century brewery pakhuizen (warehouses) that have been turned into chic and expensive apartments combine to make this one of Amsterdam’s most photogenic corners.
Noordermarkt is an old market square hosts a Farmers’ Market for “bio” (organic) products. It is also a flea market during weekdays. Clothes that were fashionable a decade and more ago are, for some reason, highly esteemed, and dealers recycle everything from Golden Age antiques to yesterday’s junk.
The Noorderkerk (North Church), the last masterpiece by architect Hendrick de Keyser, the guiding hand behind many of Amsterdam’s historic churches, dominates the square. It’s something of a rarity in this nominally Calvinist city, since it has a large and active congregation. On the facade, a plaque recalls the February 1941 strike in protest at Nazi deportation of the city’s Jewish population. A three-figure sculpture-group outside recalls the dead and wounded from the 1934 Jordaanoproer, street riots to protest poverty, which were suppressed by the army.
One can trace the development of the rich folk’s wealth and tastes as one progress up the house numbers on Herengracht, and this section on both sides of the canal is just the top of the place. Built with old money around the 1670s, it is the fading afterglow of the Golden Age, when French-influenced neoclassicism was all the rage, they are in the main built of sandstone, rather than brick, on double lots with double steps and central entrances.
At Amstel River – the river is thick with houseboats and canal barges. To the left is the refurbished Blue Bridge over the river, built in 1884 on the lines of Paris’s Pont Alexandre III; to the right is the famous Skinny Bridge double drawbridge. To have a great view on the comings and goings on the water just step on to any bridge and have a great time.