Amsterdam’s captivating Keizersgracht Canal


In terms of canals in Amsterdam, the Keizersgracht is an absolute gem. It is the third canal of the famous canal Belt. Picturesque, animated and alive – there is a photo opportunity around every corner!


The Keizersgracht (‘Emperor’s canal’) is one of the most important canals in Amsterdam, as well as the widest – 31 meters! The council began building it in 1612, the same time that the Herengracht and Prinsengracht were being built. The name ‘Keizersgracht’ is a tribute to Emperor Maximilian of Austria.

Characteristics of houses and apartments

Many of the stately facades of the Keizersgracht have on them stone tablets. These tablets are engraved with the family name and crest of the original owners, along with the date on which the house was built. The varying shades of brickwork and irregularity of the roofing gives each house its own personality. The Keizersgracht boasts some of Amsterdam’s best canal houses!

5 Highlights of the Keizersgracht canal

  1. Homomonument: Commemorating approximately 70,000 gays and lesbians who were killed in Nazi concentration camps in WW2, the Homomonument is the only one to do so.
  2. Keizersrace: Every winter, if the ice is thick enough, the Keizersgracht hosts the Keizersrace (‘Emperor’s race). It is an event filled with cheer, speed, and splendor!
  3. Syrian Orthodox church: The Syrian Orthodox church is one of Keizersgracht’s most spectacular buildings. Its neo-gothic style makes it popular with those interested in architecture.
  4. City Archive: Originally a bank built on the Keizersgracht in 1928, the current city archive still houses the original vault. The city archive hosts a range of captivating historical exhibitions.
  5. Bridges: Due to the large span of the Keizersgracht, its bridges are worth noting. Arched gracefully over the gently flowing water and edged prettily with lights, the bridges of Keizersgracht are picturesque by both day and night!

Top 5 Things to do and see

  1. Foam photography museum: The quiet, modern interiors of Foam photography museum create the perfect setting for the careful contemplation of the works of some of the world’s greatest photographers. The exhibitions, visiting from all corners of the world, provoke profound thought and reflections.
  2. Museum van Loon: The Museum van Loon is the old home of the esteemed Dutch family van Loon. The museum has preserved exactly 17th century life as it was: a lush, manicured garden, luxurious, classic furniture, and exquisite decor are some of its features. The coach house – with a still-lingering smell of horses – really gives the sense of having traveled back in time.
  3. Felix Meritis: Felix Meritis, meaning ‘Happiness through merit’, was established in 1777. The center has always been a hub of culture, science, and the arts (Mozart performed there, for example!), and continues to be one today.
  4. Canal Bike: Canal bikes, which are up for hire, allows one to see the stunning Keizersgracht from the water. They’re also a lot of fun, and are great exercise!
  5. House Marseille: House Marseille on the Keizersgracht was the first photography museum established in the Netherlands. The museum maintains its 17th century style both with its exterior and interior.

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