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Canal rings houses

The old centre was formed by rings of canals with unique mostly 17th century residences of wealthy merchants, financiers, craftsmen, doctors, lawyers, politicians and artists. Because of lack of space, these houses were mostly narrow, not more than 30ft wide (9 meters). They are are characterized by big narrow windows, decorative gable tops, very narrow stairs inside and pulley outside to transport larger objects to upper floors. Very often the residences served also as businesses. Merchant’s houses had their storage in attics and cellars. Sometimes the lift was installed in the middle of the house plan, to transport the goods between floors. The office of the merchant was usually on the ground floor. Like in Venice the canals were the main way of transporting the goods.

The Grachtengordel (Canal Ring)

The Grachtengordel (Canal Ring) is one of Amsterdam's prettiest areas to wander through. As you explore, keep in mind that when these impressive canal houses were built for the movers and shakers of the 17th-century Golden Age, home owners were taxed on their houses' width, not height. Wealth and prestige was measured by the width of the house, the number of windows facing the canal, and the ornate gable work.
The grand, crescent-shape waterways of the Canal Ring, which surround the old center, are made up of Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht (Prince, Emperor, and Gentlemen canals). The intersecting canals and streets were originally built to house and provide work space for artisans and workers, but are now magnets to discerning shoppers, diners, and drinkers. The construction of the Canal Rings, which began at the beginning of the 17th century, proceeded from west to east.

The Eastern end of the Canal Ring is known as the Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend), where elaborate gables, richly decorated facades, colored marbles, and heavy doors create an imposing architecture that suits the bank headquarters of today as well as it did the grandness of yore. Because the properties were so narrow, though, many well-heeled home owners decided to buy two adjoining allotments and build double-wide houses.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the greatest small cities in the world. From its canals to world-famous museums and historical sights, Amsterdam is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe.
Its name is derived from Amstel dam,indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel where the Dam Square is today. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading centre for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were formed.
(Source: Amsterdam info & fodors.com)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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