Amsterdam is replete with numerous canals and bridges. The city therefore is rightly often called “Venice of the North”. If you are an avid traveler visiting Amsterdam, it would be worthwhile for you to know the city, its canals and their importance.
Amsterdam is mostly referred to as a ‘City on Waters’. You will be surprised to know that the city has over 100 km of canals, 1500 bridges and nearly 90 islands. The three main canals – Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Herengracht – form a concentric belt around Amsterdam. It is known as ‘Grachtengordel’ or Canal Ring. The 1150 historic buildings alongside the main canals offer a fascinating view of the city. These canals were dug during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. The UNESCO has also accorded World Heritage status to the Canal Ring in August 2010.
Apart from the three main canals, there are other canals as well in the city that are of great historical importance. The famous canals include Singel, Zwanenburgwal, Brouwersgracht and Kloveniersburgwal. Here’s a brief history about these canals which are worth knowing.
The Amsterdam canal system owes its existence to meticulous city planning, which came at a time when immigration was at its zenith during early 17th century. A total of four main canals were built. Three canals were exclusively devoted to residential development, while the fourth canal ‘Nassau/Stadhouderskade’ was dug essentially for water management and defense purposes.
The Herengracht is among the first three major canals in the city. It is the most elegant and is also known as the ‘Gentleman’s Canal’. The ‘Golden Bend’ is the fashionable area of this canal. Here you will find mansions and gardens. The Keizersgracht is also important among the three main canals. It is called the ‘Emperor’s Canal’ and is the second and widest among the three. This canal is situated between the Prinsengracht Canal and Herengracht Canal. The Prinsengracht is the longest of the major canals and is the fourth to be built. It is also called the ‘Prince’s Canal’.
The canals of Amsterdam host many events every year. The events are either hosted on the canals or alongside the water. The major events here include the King’s Day, TCS Amsterdam Marathon, Amsterdam Gay Pride, Grachten festival Amsterdam, Remembrance & Liberation Day, and Amsterdam Light Festival.
If you are planning to spend your vacations in Amsterdam this summer, you are surely in for exciting times ahead as you will get opportunity to take part in Grachtenfestival, also popularly called Amsterdam Canal Festival. This festival will be held from August 15 to 24, 2014. The 10-day-long festival would be entering into its 17th year. The festival is essentially of classical music and will be held at various locations. The Grachtenfestival offers young talented musicians a great platform to showcase their musical skills and be an effective launch pad for their careers. The important highlight of the festival is the Prinsengracht Concert. This spectacular classical extravaganza marks the festival conclusion. The festival is a great hit among scores of tourists and music aficionados coming from the Netherlands and different parts of the world.