How the three main canals got their names

Legend has it that the three main canals during Amsterdams expansion got their names as follows: The rulers, the merchants and the top of the bourgeoisie were as a group called ’Heren’ (gentlemen). They saw themselves as the most important part of the society, and therefore they named the first canal after themselves.  Emperor Maximilian […]

About streets and trees along the canals

 The spire of Oude Kerk Digging Amsterdam’s main canals and the many cross canals has been a tremendous achievement, especially when you consider that the excavation work was carried out by foot and hand.  Singel no. 96 The construction and paving of the docks was no less difficult though, with all the hand cut cobbles […]

Bridges in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has many miles of canals and the cities almost 1300 bridges are therefore an integral part of the cityscape. The bridges are found in many different types. There are bridges with arches, foot bridges, tilting bridges, rotating bridges, bale bridges, lift bridges, bascule bridges and chain bridges. Time and the increasing traffic are damaging […]


Until a fire in 1532 there stood a monastery for monks of the Augustinian réguliers where Keizersgracht and Utrechtsestraat intersect today. That monastery gave its name to the canal between Lijnbaansgracht and Herengracht. In the beginning the canal was meant to continue all the way to the Amstel, but the plans were only carried out […]

Leidsegracht, part II

Leidsegracht 88 This former warehouse has been converted into living quarters. The name of the house is Archangel, and it belonged to father and son Thesingh. Thesingh senior and junior were engaged in trading with the remote Russian city Archangel at the White Sea. At the beginning of each year Thesingh senior travelled North with […]

Leidsegracht, part I

Leidsegracht In the first period after the canal expansion the building only stretched from Brouwersgracht to the current Leidsegracht. It was only in 1658 that the settlement continued all the way to the Amstel. At that time, after the completion of the first expansion with so many monumental canal properties, Amsterdam already looked quite different. […]


 Leliegracht 22 is now a book shop At Leliegracht 22 Casparus van Houten started the production of chocolate in 1815. The mill, which was used to crush cacao beans, was run by men, who ran in circles. At that time there were many chocolate factories. Some of them still exist, others can only be found […]


Prinsenstraat and Herenstraat, which are extensions of each other, cross the three major canals and end at Blauwburgwal, a short canal that was already dug during the canal expansion in 1585. The origin of the name Blauwburgwal is not certain. Some believe that it stems from the unusual blue color of the wooden bridge.  At […]

The cross canals

 Houses at the corner Brouwersgracht – Prinsengracht The tree major canals are crisscrossed by four cross canals and a large number of streets. One canal, which predates the major canal expansion, is Brouwersgracht. It was dug between Singel and the already existing narrow Herengracht in 1585 and was only dug all the way through to […]

Magere Brug

House number 1131 is the last one on Prinsengracht, but on the other side of the River Amstel the canal goes on a little further until Plantage Muidergracht and is here called Nieuwe Prinsengracht. One way to get there is to turn right and walk to Kerkstraat. Between Kerkstraat and Nieuwe Kerkstraat on the other […]