In 2010 this area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Grachten Gordel translates into “Canal Belt” due to the three canals which form a layered semi-circle around the centre.
By the 17th century, Amsterdam’s wealth had surpassed that of any other city in the world. The elite merchants and businessmen, or burghers as they were called, ran the city, it’s finances, and politics. At the same time Amsterdam was always a pillored society. While there was a very wealthy upper-class, the lower class was abundant in Amsterdam. It was decided that a new neighbourhood was needed where the merchant elite could comfort themselves away from the unwashed masses in the centre.
Over the period of about 70 years, this neighbourhood came in to being. Three big canals were built, by hand, and today they remain one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful and famous aspects.
The names of the canals betray their origin as centre-pieces of an elite neighbourhood. They are called the Gentlemen’s Canal, The King’s Canal and the Prince’s Canal.
You needed money to live in this area, and that hasn’t changed over the centuries.
This is truly a beautiful part of the city, and you will almost certainly find yourself wandering through. Do yourself a favour and take your time, take good photos, and savour the atmosphere which only Amsterdam provides.
Things to check out:
The 9 Streets are 9 of Amsterdam’s most famous shopping streets. The quirky, esoteric and specialised shops provide a different style of “window-shopping” than many tourists in Amsterdam are used to.
The canals are the life-blood of Amsterdam, and what keeps our feet dry. The scale of work construct these three canals was immense in the 17th century and that can truly be appreciated by simply sitting down and enjoying the relaxing nature of the neighbourhood.