What’s the essence of a country? What’s the feeling that you get from a land? What defines city flavour? What remains in your memory when you leave a certain place? What’s Tipish Nederlandese about Amsterdam? If there's one thing that best characterizes it, it has to be without a doubt, the canals. The canal system running through the city resembling blood veins and giving it life.
Amsterdam is easily associated to many things, but the most popular ones, for some Dutch people negative ones, are all tourism related. Therefore these are not the real essence of this amazing city, the city of the canals for me, is its true heart. Not only because it turns the city to a beautiful, magical and also special place but also due to another reason.
Like everyone knows, The Netherlands, owes its name to the fact that it’s a low land. It actually lies below sea level. To prevent Amsterdam and the rest of the country to get flooded, the Dutch decided to find a solution, which is the canal system. This started in the 13th century and even if meanwhile things improved and updated, the main concept prevails and as you can see it works. Amsterdam’s canal system is a result of successful city planning with defensive and shipping purposes as the city expanded during the 16th century. The city was built on dikes and dams that shove against the water and send it to the sea. So the canals are not only aesthetic in reality, they have a utility and a really important one.
In Amsterdam there are three famous canals that stand in an area named Grachtengordel, the canal ring area that makes part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Their names are: Herengracht (lord’s canal), Prinsengracht (prince’s canal) and Keizersgracht (emperor’s canal).
In the Dutch Golden Age period, these three canals with a concentric half-circle form were dug around the city centre. Crossing them there are perpendicular streets and canals that connect these areas and this way is crammed with a lot of bridges. This area is magical and makes the city very special as well. Along the water there are classical architecture buildings, the famous canals houses and special stores, galleries and museums. In the water there are always boats cruising and franking, the famous houseboats. Canal tours are also available and they are very interesting because of the info that they provide and also because of the different perspective from the city.
During the night the yellow lights give the city a dreamy atmosphere. The beautiful reflections in the water embrace you assigning another enchanted perspective to the city. Amsterdam is a passionate city and since the first time that I’ve been here, it changed my mind, giving me the “must” to move here and fall in love everyday.