Peaceful, Pretty and Rich in History: The Prinsengracht
Despite the fact that the Prinsengracht is located in the midst of such a vibrant city, it has an atmosphere of quiet tranquility. As one of the most magnificent canals of Amsterdam, a stroll along the Prinsengracht will awe and inspire.
The Prinsengracht is one of the four main canals of Amsterdam, and is included on The World Heritage List, it is named after the ”prince of orange”. The entrance to the Prinsengracht is called the ‘Eenhoornsluis’ (‘Unicorn Lock’), and was built in the 17th century. There is a stone tablet at the Eenhoornsluis entrance, the only one of nine original measuring stones remaining. Titled ‘Huddes stone’, it was declared a municipal historical monument in 2005.
The Dutch taxing system of the 17th century taxed on the basis of width; the wider the area used beside the canal, the more one was taxed. This resulted in the fascinating architecture that can be seen along the Prinsengracht. Elongated, narrow houses stand shoulder to shoulder, like perfect little doll houses. The narrowest house in all of Amsterdam stands among them – three stories of just one meter width each! Each house along the Prinsengracht has a character entirely of its own, whilst still maintaining its historical authenticity.
Highlights of the Prinsengracht
- Western church: As one of the first protestant churches built in Amsterdam, the Western church is intriguing for those interested in the reformation period of Amsterdam. The church has witnessed the burial of Rembrandt, as well as the marriage of the former Queen of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix.
- Northern church: Located beside the Noordermarkt (‘Northern Market’), the stately Northern church is spectacular to behold. It was built by the same architect of the Western church.
- Amstelveld: Every Monday, Amstelveld square hosts a colorful, fragrant flower market, attracting local botanists and curious visitors. Every other day of the week, its a wonderful place to simply sit back and watch the city pass by.
- Posthorn hidden church: This church was one of fourteen hidden Catholic churches that appeared during the 17th century reformation period in Amsterdam. Banned from practicing their faith publicly, Catholics retreated into these modest havens to join each other in worship.
- Casteel van Beveren: Built on the Prinsengracht in 1720, this is one of the less well-known historical monuments of the canal.
5 Things to do and see
- Anne Frank House: The Anne Frank House is the ultimate must-see of the Prinsengracht and one of the top atraction in whole Amsterdam. As the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family during WW2, it houses her original diaries and the bookcase which concealed the secret rooms.
- Houseboat museum: Amsterdam is full of quaint houseboats moored to its canal edges. The Houseboat museum gives visitors a chance to have an inside look.
- Saloon boat Avanti: Built in 1909, this ex-saloon boat now cruises the canals of Amsterdam as a party boat, beginning in the Prinsengracht.
- Cafes: The Prinsengracht hosts a range of charming cafes, such as Cafe Papeneiland. This cafe is particularly known for its beautiful apple tart with fresh cream.
- Shopping: There are plenty of little shops to browse through along the Prinsengracht – something to suit every taste!
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