Amsterdam is a pretty watery city. Probably the most watery in the world. That’s because Amsterdam is known for its canals. There are four main canals: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht. They all date back from the 17thcentury. Almost 25 percent of Amsterdam is water. Since 2010 the inner city canals and some surrounding land are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fun fact: Amsterdam is the only city where the historic medieval city isn’t a museum, but a prostitution area.
Amsterdam consists of natural and manmade waterways. They play an important part with controlling the water, transportation and defense mechanisms against enemies. Of course, nowadays, we don’t have to worry about enemies a lot. To make way for the horses and carriages, some canals were filled up to create more land.
An interesting feature of the canals is that they were all manmade. They were dug up, and all the sludge that came out of it was used to make the surrounding terrain higher. Even nowadays, the canals have to be dredged from time to time to make sure it has enough depth for all the tour boats and recreational boats. This is what the canals are used for, but its main function remains controlling the water.
Around 1270 a dam was being build inside the Amstel river. On both sides of the channeled and dammed piece of the Amstel river (now the ‘Damrak’ and ‘Rokin’) the innercity of Amsterdam was getting formed into the Amsterdam we know today. The first brothel was opened in the 15thcentury in the ‘Warmoesstraat’ and in the alleyways surrounding. The oldest canal houses were owned by the rich and famous.
Written by Delano, executive assistant