Amsterdam Canals Facts 2018/2019

Wandering the streets – or rather the canals – of Amsterdam is one of the most rewarding parts of touring the Netherlands. Not only do all of these canals hold historic and even symbolic significance for the city and its people, as well as their history and development, but these canals are also a very fun and very defining feature of the city. In fact, around 2010 the Canal Ring (also called Grachtengordel) was recognized as a world-acclaimed monument. We’ll explain some Amsterdam canals facts that are pretty cool to know.


How Many Bridges And Canals Are There?

There is no wondering why this city is referred to as ‘Venice of the North’ its because there are 165 canals throughout it, the total length which totals around 31 entire miles! Now that’s a lot of canals! To name a few of the bigger ones – Prisengracht, Singel, Herengracht, and Keizersgracht. As well, spanning many of these canals, including the afformentioned proiminent ones, one cool Amsterdam canal fact is that there’s 1,281 bridges! Of which the Torensluis is the oldest and the Blaywbrug is probably the best known of the lot.


Which Person First Had The Idea?

It was actually a governing body of noble lords who first had the idea to drain the areas and create more room to grow Amsterdam. These Dutch lords were called heren regeerders, and were quite long-term wealthy residents of the city – they managed and directed the draining and expansion, and soon the canals developed all over.


What’s The Pollution Like In The City?

Rest assured the water throughout the Amsterdam canals is getting cleaner all the time with every passing year! However, currently it is still not considered safe for swimming, at least officially. First, this is to due with much of the sewage from houseboats flowing directly into canals, and second, due to the amount of metals and bicycles which are fished out of the canals each year – to date around 12,000 to 15,000 each year.

Charities which raise awareness for pollution as well as fight the pollution in the canals include the Amsterdam City Swim, which raises money for the continue hygiene of the water. As well as, Waternet which ensures all the time that the water be cleaned as much as possible, and that canal gates be opened in order to refresh the water.


Originally Amsterdam Was Swampland.

Another great canal fact Amsterdam is that long before the days of canals, houses, and bridges, this area was just marshy and flooded. Then one day the people of the area started systematically draining sections one by one – this in turn created islands, the islands were populated, each island threw up a bridge to another island, and the canals were born to manage travel and defense as well as water.


Are These Canals Filled With Salt Or Fresh Waters?

Trick question! The answer is ‘yes’ to both, because salt water enters the canals via the Noordzeekanall which makes it possible for the Ijmuiden to connect into Amsterdam. This assisted with trading to and from the ocean and outlying coastal areas. However, fresh water also constantly comes into the canals from the Rhine River via the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. Both types of water can be found.


Arcs Instead Of Straight Lines?

The reason for the canals being shaped in arches rather than clean cut and sectioned lines, is that the canal system and city expanded from the middle of the once swampland – this was during the 1640’s – and the growth effected the arch-like shape of each extension.


What Is The Price Of Owning A Canal House?

This question is very dependent upon the location of the house in the city, and most starting prices are around €1,200,000 and normally sell for close to €2,500,000. Up-to-date information can be found at websites like Funda.


How Much Does A Canal Boat House Cost?

You can base most prices off of the common starting price for a house boat which is €280,000. Websites such as Funda or Marktplaats always have the newest details on prices and current house-boat listings.


Age The Canal Houses First Started Being Built?

Mostly the period of construction for canal houses was during the 16th and 17th centuries – as you tour the city most of the houses show these dates on the front. If there isn’t a date provided, many roof gables can be used as a clue to guess at each houses age which is a cool fact of canal Amsterdam facts.


What About The Larger Canal Houses?

During the earliest periods of their construction, the wealthy merchants of Amsterdam lived in and built the larger houses – today the buildings are mostly used by businesses or divided into apartments. For a look at what these houses would have originally looked like on the inside, visit Museum Van Loon.


Why Do These Homes Lean?

During their original construction, most of the buildings were built intentionally to lean forward – this enabled larger and heavier goods to be lifted to higher floors or even rooftops without bumping into windows and breaking them. However, the lean of each house has been dramatically altered in later years due to the failure of soft ground and weak wooden foundations – this has caused each of the canal houses to lean extremely more than they once would have.


About How Deep Do Many Of The Canals Run?

In advance, know that now in the modern age almost all of the canals are regulated by Waternet – and they gerneally keep each canal at 40 centimeters below NAP standards (the nationally agreed and enforced measure of safe water levels). So expect most canals to be around two or three meters in depth and since they are no longer tidal, expect them to stay this depth. Many locals joke, that all canals are three meters deep – one meter each for water, then mud, and then bikes.


During The Winter Do Canals Freeze Over?

Often some of the canals due in fact freeze over due to freezing temperatures, and they can often stay frozen for a few days in a row – the freezes rarely last long enough to be walked on or skated on safely, but when they do the City Council will cordon those sections to let the ice freeze and not inhibit the movement of other boats throughout the other canals.


Using A Boat In The City, Is A License Required?

The Government operated organization Waternet requires that if you own a boat and moor it within city limits, that you then also pay for and maintain a license for it. As well, there is a length limit – 12 meters in length – which all boats must be at or under in order to enter Amsterdam. Rules for using the waterways are not set, and any person can operate a boat through these waters so long as they don’t moor the craft without a license or proper permissions. The nautical speed limit is 7.5 miles per hour.

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