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

From the World Heritage inscription for the Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht:

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 program 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 Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht begins right when you exit the Amsterdam Central train station. It is impossible to miss.


Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

The Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Netherlands. It was inscribed by UNESCO in 2010. The protected area represents the historic urban ensemble within the notable canal district of Amsterdam. This canal system was established to form the so-called port city that the city was initially designed for in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The site therefore consists of a network of canals that encircled the entire town. The fortified boundaries within the city’s inland, the Singelgracht, was also part of the area encircled by the network of canals. This was part of a long-term program of extending the city with the use of the canal system. The canals are built in concentric arcs to make it easier to fill in the intermediate spaces within the city.

About Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

The city of Amsterdam has undergone many expansions over the course of its history. However, the biggest expansion would have to be the one in the 17th century, which is commemorated in the UNESCO recognition of Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht. The shape of the ring of canals is that of a moon. The 17th century was also the same time when the city flourished and gained wealth due to trade.

The Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht is a massive urban landscape. The core zone of this UNESCO site consists of 3,466 national monuments. Some of these notable monuments include the following:

  • Anne Frank House
  • Rembrandtplein
  • Almshouses
  • Groenlandsche Pakhuizen (warehouse)
  • Clandestine Churches in Remonstrant and Mennonite
  • Protestant Churches in Westerkerk and Noorderkerk

The formation of the massive Amsterdam canal system was part of the city planning. At the time that the canals were built, there was a massive immigration on the city. The three canals that were built are residential developments; these are namely the Patrician’s Canal (Herengracht), Emperor’s Canal (Keizersgracht), and Prince’s Canal (Prinsengracht). The fourth canal, Singelgracht, was designed for water management and for defensive purposes. Singel circles the medieval city serving as a moat since the 15th century. It is now regarded as the inner-most canal in this ring of canal in Amsterdam.

Herengracht is the first of the three major canals. This is best known for the Golden Bend wherein you will find many of the double wide mansions, coach houses, and inner gardens. The other notable canal in Amsterdam is the Keizersgracht. It is the second widest of the three major canals that comprise the Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht. The canal is named after the Holy Roman Emperor – Maximilian I. Finally, the longest of the main canals is the Prinsengracht. The canal is named after Prince of Orange.

Other Notable Canals

Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

Zwanenburgwal: This canal and street is located at the heart of Amsterdam. Some of its notable residents include philosopher Spinoza and painter Rembrant. It was also recognized as one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful streets. The canal was named after the textile industry that dominated this part of town.

Brouwersgracht: Also located in the city center, this part of the Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht connects the Singel with the three other major canals in the city. The canal is where the ships from Asia would dock bringing silk and spices. The former warehouses near this canal have been converted into apartments.

Kloveniersburgwal: This canal runs from Nieuwmarkt to Amstel River. Therefore, it is located on the edge of this medieval city. There were a few grand mansions along this canal that were built during the 17th century.

Brantasgracht, Majanggracht, Seranggacht, and Lamonggracht: These are the four of the newest canals that were built in Amsterdam. The canals are also known for the classic canal houses that are built along the canal lines. These houses were designed by 19 Dutch architects. These houses are also featured in many travel guides to Amsterdam.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 25, 2017 @ 5:25 pm

Something Funny Happened On The Way Around The World

When I started traveling back in 2007 I did it for same reasons everyone does: to learn, explore, discover and see all the things I’ve always wanted to see.

…and for almost 5 years I’ve been doing just that. You can see from my about page all of the things I’ve crammed into the last 5 years of my life.

My motives for traveling were entirely, and unapologetically, selfish….and I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it.

A few years ago, however, something happened.
Continue reading “Something Funny Happened On The Way Around The World”

November 2011 Questions & Answers

It is a cold night here in Dresden, Germany. I woke up in the city of Eisenach and visited the birthplace of JS Bach and then went to the historic city of Weimar in the afternoon visiting the homes of Goethe, Schiller, List and Luther. I’ve probably learned more about German history in the last few days than I have in the rest of my life.

I figure a good way to cap off the evening would be answer some questions from the old inbox.

Bernadette Walsh asks: Was that your first bungee [last month in Auckland]?
Continue reading “November 2011 Questions & Answers”

UNESCO World Heritage Site #155: City of Quito

UNESCO World Heritage Site #155: City of Quito
UNESCO World Heritage Site #155: City of Quito

From the World Heritage inscription:

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city and stands at an altitude of 2,850 m. Despite the 1917 earthquake, the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía, with their rich interiors, are pure examples of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.

Quito was the first cultural World Heritage site and the second overall after the Galapagos Islands. Quito is considered to be one of the best preserved Spanish colonial cities in Latin American and the best capital city. The highlight of the old city to me was the cathedral. If you should find yourself at the Quito Cathedral, check out the gargoyles on the outside. They are all animals you will find in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, including marine iguanas and tortoises.


City of Quito

The City of Quito is the capital city of Ecuador. It is officially known as San Francisco de Quito, which is known as the second highest official capital city (next to La Paz in Bolivia) with an elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level. Aside from being known as Ecuador’s capital, this is also a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city was inscribed into the UNESCO list in 1978. The entire protected area spans 320 hectares in land area.

About the City of Quito

City of Quito

The city of Quito in Ecuador was founded in the 16th century. The current location of the city was also the former site of the ruins of the ancient Inca City. The excavations done by archaeologist Robert E. Bell in the 1960 have enabled him to gather evidence to distinguish the oldest traces of human settlement in the city. These evidences were gathered from the slopes of Ilalo volcano. There are hunting and gathering tools that were discovered on the site, which were dated to be from 8,000 years BC. Among the items that were uncovered at the site included projectile points, basal fluting, and other surface materials.

Another site that proved of importance to tracing the history of the City of Quito is in the neighborhood of Cotocollao. The history of this neighborhood dates back to 1,500 BC. This prehistoric village is where archaeologists discovered burials, pottery and stone offerings.

By the 18th century, Quito and most of Ecuador came under the rule of the Spanish Empire. Like other colonies of Spain, the Roman Catholicism was established in the city. In fact, the first church in Ecuador was established in Quito even before the city was officially founded. By 1743, after nearly 3 centuries of Spanish colonization, there were already around 10,000 inhabitants in Quito. The city and the entire country gained independence from Spain in 1809. However, the several centuries of Spanish rule has allowed the Spanish influences to be deeply embedded into the culture and way of life in Quito. To this day, those influences are still evident and is a huge part of the locals’ daily life.

As of 2014, the city of Quito is the most populous city in Ecuador with 2.6 million inhabitants. The second most populous city is Guayaquil.

Cultural Heritage of Quito

City of Quito

The City of Quito earns the distinction as being the first city in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the same year, Krakow in Poland was also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The City of Quito was recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Site as it meets 6 out of 10 criteria that would make a city a cultural capital. First and foremost, the city exhibits the interchange of human values dating back to the time of the Spanish colonial period. The Spaniards have impacted the town planning, architectural design, and cultural traditions of Quito. At the same time, there are also several traces of its Inca history and heritage, as evidenced by the archaeological finds in many parts of the city. Archaeologists even claim that there could be more sights that bear these evidences that have yet to be discovered.

The historic center of the City of Quito has also retained many of the old structures that date back to the colonial period. From the colonial center, town layout, magnificent churches, and cobblestone streets, all of these have remained intact until today.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ecuador.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Absurdity Which Is The New7Wonders of Nature

Underground River in Puerto Princessa, Philippines - One of the New7Wonders of Nature
Underground River in Puerto Princessa, Philippines - One of the New7Wonders of Nature
If you have been paying attention to the news the last several days, you might have heard that the New7Wonders Foundation released their list of the New7Wonders of Nature. You also might remember a similar announcement a few years ago for the New7Wonders of the World. Here is the list they released:

  • Amazon Rainforest and River
  • Halong Bay
  • Iguaçu Falls
  • Jeju Island
  • Komodo Island
  • Puerto Princesa Underground River
  • Table Mountain

Continue reading “The Absurdity Which Is The New7Wonders of Nature”

This Week In Travel – Episode 100

Our 100th Episode of This Week In Travel was done live at Blog World Expo in Los Angeles. We didn’t have a normal news show. This week we had a free-form discussion with many of the speakers in the travel and tourism track at the conference. Guests include Michael Tieso, Benny Lewis, Kara Williams, Chris Grey Faust, Jen Miner

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
Continue reading “This Week In Travel – Episode 100”

I’m Going to Antarctica!

I’ve announced it on Twitter and Facebook, but I figured I should make it official and post it on the blog: I’m heading to Antarctica in January!

I’ll be traveling with G Adventures as part of their Wanderers in Residence Program and I’ll be sailing on the M/S Expedition.

The itinerary looks to be awesome. The particular cruise I’m going to be on is the top of the line expedition which G offers in Antarctica: The Spirit of Shackleton. In addition to visiting Antarctica, I’ll be visiting South Georgia Island (where Earnest Shackelton sailed to help his crew) and the Falkland Islands. Continue reading “I’m Going to Antarctica!”

Dealing with Jet Lag

I arrived in London on Monday from Los Angeles and suffered one of the worst cases of Jet Lag I’ve had in my life. I went almost 48 hours with only an hour of sleep and then followed it up with a 14 hour sleep session on Tuesday.

Despite all the traveling I’ve done over the last 5 years, I actually haven’t suffered from jet lag that much. First, I have mostly been moving to the west and I find it easier to go west than it is going east. Second, I haven’t required that many long flights. When I started in 2007 in the Pacific I mostly had short flights that didn’t require a lot of time adjustment. What long flights I’ve had usually had a large north/south component to it (New York to Johannesburg). Continue reading “Dealing with Jet Lag”

UNESCO World Heritage Site #154: Galapagos Islands

UNESCO World Heritage Site #154: Galapagos Islands
UNESCO World Heritage Site #154: Galapagos Islands

From the World Heritage inscription:

Situated in the Pacific some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflect the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many species of finch that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution following his visit in 1835.

The site is situated on the Galápagos Submarine Platform, and consists of about 120 islands. The larger islands are Isabela, Santa Cruz, Fernandina, Santiago and San Cristobal. The islands were formed by volcanic processes and most represent the summit of a volcano, some of which rise over 3,000 m from the Pacific floor. The western part of the archipelago experiences intense volcanic and seismic activity. The larger islands typically comprise one or more gently sloping shield volcano, culminating in collapsed craters or calderas. Long stretches of shoreline are only slightly eroded, but in many places faulting and marine erosion have produced steep cliffs and lava, coral or shell sand beaches. Other noteworthy landscape features include crater lakes, fumaroles, lava tubes, sulphur fields and a great variety of lava and other ejects such as pumice, ash and tuff.

The fact that the Galapagos Islands are listed as UNESCO World Heritage site #1 is no coincidence. It is one of the most significant ecological sites in the world. Home to multiple endemic species, it was the also where Darwin originally got his ideas which lead to the theory of evolution.

I spent four days traveling around the islands with G Adventures as part of their Wanderer in Residence program. It is one of the places where I know I will return one day. Four days in the Galapagos is not enough.


Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago consisting of volcanic Islands, which is part of the Republic of Ecuador. This is a natural site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its outstanding global value in terms of biodiversity. There are 21 islands that make up this archipelago and 18 of these are considered as major islands. Meanwhile, the entire area protected by UNESCO for its World Heritage listing is about 7,880 square kilometers. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

The islands that make up Galapagos Islands are best known for the high level of endemic species that have thrived here. It became known after Charles Darwin’s research on these islands. The observations and studies he had performed on the islands have led to the formulation of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection.

About Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands was first explored in 1535 by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, who was a Bishop of Panama. He discovered this island during his voyage to Peru. When he returned to the Spanish Empire, he shared details of his discovery of the unnamed islands (at that time). The first crude map of the island was published in 1684 by buccaneer Ambrose Cowley. Since then, the island caught attention of many who were interested to explore it. But iwas Charles Darwin’s book “The Voyage of the Beagle” that gained the most attention.

The islands of Galapagos were mostly formed out of volcanism. There were several tectonic features that suggest the volcanic origin of the islands in this archipelago. Indeed, the archipelago is distinctively known for its contemporaneous volcanoes. There are 9 active volcanoes spread throughout the archipelago and these have erupted 24 times over the period of 5 decades (from 1961 to 2011).

The location of the Galapagos Islands on the eastern Pacific Ocean means that the closest land mass is the mainland Ecuador (to which it is a part of). The islands are located right at the equator; this means that some islands are located on the northern hemisphere while the others are located on the southern hemisphere. The southernmost island of this archipelago is called Española Island. Meanwhile, the northernmost island is called Darwin Island. Aside from the 18 major islands and 3 smaller islands, there are also 107 rocks and islets that make up this archipelago.

Even though the islands are located along the equator, the Humboldt Current brings cold water into the islands. This also means that there is frequent rain on the islands all throughout the year. The island is also hit with frequent El Niño events that occur once every 3 to 7 years. Meanwhile, the varied altitude levels also mean that the weather can change drastically if you go from one part of the island to the other.

Practical Travel Tips

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands is a bucket-list destination for many people. It is rich in biological diversity (both flora and fauna) and high endemic level that you will find many plants or animals that are only found in these islands. If you want to explore the 21 islands, make sure you take note of the tips below:

  • The question of “when to go” does not apply in Galapagos Islands. There is something to see or do depending on which time of the year it is. The peak season for tourism is from June to August, or mid-December to mid-January.
  • The hot and rainy season is from December to May. During this time, the ocean is calm. But during the day, the sky is mostly sunny.
  • If you want to avoid the heat, you should travel from June to November. The Humboldt Current brings chilly winds and weather to the islands.
  • If you want to tour the Galapagos Islands, you need to do so through a tour company. All guides to the tours should be licensed by the Galapagos National Park. Therefore, you need to check that prior to booking a tour with a specific company.
  • If you are planning to travel or book a cruise, make sure you do so months ahead. The boats could easily fill up especially during peak season.

How to Get Here

Galapagos Islands

To travel to Galapagos Islands, you need to go to mainland Ecuador first. There are several airlines and airports that service flights that travel to Quito or Guayaquil in Ecuador. However, you might want to book flights to Quayaquil since this is closer to the Galapagos Islands. Booking a flight to Guayaquil is slightly less expensive than the flights that go through Quito; however, these flights are quite limited as more routes travel via Quito.

From the airport, you must travel via bus for two hours to Puerto Ayora in the island of Santa Cruz. This is the main settlement area in Galapagos Islands.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ecuador.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.