From the World Heritage inscription:
The historic urban ensemble of the canal district of Amsterdam was a project for a new ‘port city’ built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. It comprises a network of canals to the west and south of the historic old town and the medieval port that encircled the old town and was accompanied by the repositioning inland of the city’s fortified boundaries, the Singelgracht. This was a long-term programme that involved extending the city by draining the swampland, using a system of canals in concentric arcs and filling in the intermediate spaces. These spaces allowed the development of a homogeneous urban ensemble including gabled houses and numerous monuments. This urban extension was the largest and most homogeneous of its time. It was a model of large-scale town planning, and served as a reference throughout the world until the 19th century.
Amsterdam was the first stop on my November 2011 Eurail trip of UNESCO sites in Europe.
I had actually been to Amsterdam before, but never bothered to take any photos of inner canal area. It was declared a UNESCO after my first visit, so I never put it on my list. My first stop in this trip was to rectify that issue.
I think in many ways, Amsterdam gets a bad rap. So many people associate Amsterdam as a European version of Las Vegas with its red light district and marijuana cafes. Yes, those things do exist and you will see them in spades when you walk out of the train station, but you don’t have to walk far to find a different city.
Amsterdam is one of the best museum cities in the world. It is easily the best city for bicycling on Earth.
The UNESCO part of Amsterdam is begins right when you exit the Amsterdam Central train station. It is impossible to miss.
View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.