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UNESCO World Heritage Site #156: Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

UNESCO World Heritage Site #156: Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

UNESCO World Heritage Site #156: Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

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.

  • 6 Comments... What's your take?

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  1. Stephanie says:

    Where exactly is this located? Oddly enough, I was in Amsterdam when you published this, but wasn’t checking email :( My husband and I take an annual trip for Thanksgiving (4 years now) and I STILL haven’t seen all the museums!

  2. What can we say besides, stunning.

    Thanks for sharing Gary!

    Nancy & Shawn

  3. nateniale says:

    Oh wow.. love the refection! Was just wondering if I should include Amsterdam in my trip to Europe. when I saw your photo. The network of canals actually sound interesting!

  4. John says:

    Love the way you captured the reflection in the canal with the water not still but only slightly rippled.
    Amsterdam have a reputation but as you highlight there is a lot more to it than brothels and coffee shops. The idea of Las Vegas sounds very unappealing to me as well, is it similar, or is the stereotype of slot machines, and bright lights also selling it short?

    • Gary says:

      Vegas is different. That is what Vegas is supposed to be. You go there for entertainment. To eat, gamble and see shows. You have to go to Vegas with the right mindset. You have to accept it for what it is.

  5. Its a beautiful image! I am yet to visit the place, but am sure its much more than the Amsterdam in popular culture…can’t wait to experience it all!

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