Amsterdam canals cruise

Canal Cruise

Amsterdam canals cruise

Duration: 2 hours
>Lowest bridge no. 90 Singelgracht/lock: 1.41 m +NAP
Alternative: bridge no. 1 Coin 1.58 m +NAP
>Source: The Amsterdam sailing guide
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Amsterdam canals cruiseThe Canal Tour goes through the heart of the city. We sail along the Singel, originally a defensive wall from the early fifteenth century. We also sail past the much younger Prinsen-, Keizers- and Herengracht, all three dating from the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Contrary to popular belief, these three canals were constructed at the same time. They formed the backdrop for wealthy merchants who wanted to live ‘outside’ in Amsterdam. You will sail on the Prinsengracht for a large part of the trip. This is traditionally not the most chic canal, but it is one of the nicest canals.

Our tour starts at the Singel near the Spui.

We sail north onto the Singel

In the distant past, the then government planned to rename the Singel to Koningsgracht when the city expanded. However, the residents of Amsterdam preferred the Singel. Koningsplein at the end of this canal still reminds us of this intention.

We sail under the Torensluis.

On both sides of the lock we see the remains of an old prison. When Amsterdam was still in open connection with the Zuiderzee, the water level varied considerably. As a result, this prison regularly flooded. Tour skippers still claim every day that this is where the term troublemaker originated. The story goes that the prisoners had to turn a wheel to keep their cells dry. If they didn’t, they would die a certain death.

We continue our journey in a northerly direction.

On the port side at number 166 we see one of the narrowest buildings in Amsterdam. Although the front facade is only 1.85 m wide, the rear of the building has a facade of 5 meters. For many years there was a liquor store here with the appropriate name ‘Den ouden Pijpenla’. The first buildings on the port side (corner of Blauwburgwal and Herengracht) are among the few in Amsterdam that were bombed during the Second World War. An English pilot had a bomb stuck in the hatch of his plane. The projectile unintentionally became loose above Amsterdam. Although it did not explode, the impact was devastating to several plots.

Amsterdam canals cruiseOn the port side of the Singel, in contrast to the starboard side, we see many old merchant houses, a number of which served as berths for turntable ferries until the 20th century.

Just before the corner of Brouwersgracht on the port side is the Poezenboot: an initiative of a lady who has converted her houseboat into a floating penthouse for displaced cats. The cat boat has now been transformed into a foundation.

On the starboard side at no. 7 we see the narrowest facade in Amsterdam. This phenomenon can be easily explained: it dates back to the time when people paid taxes on the width of the facade. This building also extends considerably wider towards the rear. This is how our ancestors built striking tax palaces.

We sail out of port onto the Brouwersgracht. Please note: Brouwersgracht bottleneck.

The first part up to the Herengracht is the oldest and narrowest part of the Brouwersgracht. This part was dug at the same time as the Singel and dates from the fifteenth century. The remaining part of the Brouwersgracht was dug at the same time as a large part of the canal belt. The Brouwersgracht owes its name to the many beer brewers who were active here for years. In addition to beer breweries, this canal was home to a lot of polluting industry.

Note: bottleneck Brouwersgracht/Prinsengracht. We turn port side onto the Prinsengracht.

Amsterdam canals cruiseThe legendary entertainer Wim Sonneveld lived on the corner of the Noordermarkt (building with a stepped gable). On the starboard side we see the Noorderkerk with associated market square. The church was probably designed by Hendrick de Keyzer and was a response to the realization of the Westerkerk located further along the Prinsengracht. Construction was expected to take many years, but the Noorderkerk was ultimately completed in three years.

This part of the Prinsengracht is full of houseboats, which makes it difficult to find a suitable mooring place. Yet this is especially worthwhile on Saturdays. You can then visit the organic farmers market on the square in front of the church. You will also find antiques in a small part of the market. On Mondays there is a flea market. This Monday market takes place simultaneously with the cloth market in Westerstraat. These markets merge into each other.

As we sail further, we see the mouth of the Egelantiersgracht on the starboard side. Enthusiasts can choose to take a detour via the rustic Egelantiers and Bloemgracht. If we immediately continue under the bridge, we will pass the Leliegracht on the port side. This narrow canal used to function as a lock.

On the port side is the Anne Frank house.

At bridge no. 63 we see the Westerkerk, which is often sung about with nostalgia. It is certain that Rembrandt van Rijn is buried here, but no one knows where. Due to many renovations and the installation of heating, a lot of digging was done and the contents of numerous graves were transferred to the Nieuwe Oosterbegraafplaats. It is therefore not possible to say with certainty where he now rests and whether his bones, like his paintings, are scattered here and there throughout the city.

We sail under the Rozengracht and continue our route.

The Houseboat Museum is located on the starboard side of the Johnny Jordaanplein. This museum offers you the opportunity to view living on the water from the inside. On board you can see how this cargo ship has been converted into a cozy houseboat, equipped with an authentic skipper’s quarters with box bed, a spacious living room, kitchen and bathroom. You will be amazed by the space and comfort on board.

We turn starboard from the Prinsengracht into the Leidsegracht. If the crawl height is not sufficient (1.4 m +NAP), you can continue the trip across the Prinsengracht in the direction of the Amstel. The tour will be resumed here later.

The ferry lines used to depart from the corner of Prinsengracht/Leidsegracht towards Leiden and Haarlem. Café Pieper is a welcome change for skippers with a thirst and a sense of history.

We turn port side onto the Singelgracht.

Mata Hari lived here on the port side. In Malay, Mata Hari means eye of dawn or ‘the sun’. After her divorce from a certain Campbell MacLeod, this Dutch spy performed in Paris as a belly dancer. There are stories going around that she was a sought-after courtesan. Her alleged espionage activities for the Germans during the First World War ultimately resulted in her being executed in France. Later, Mata Hari’s role has been strongly questioned. She herself has always denied more….

Further on, on the starboard side, there is a kind of glittering salt shaker. This work of art was donated by the diamond merchants association of Amsterdam.

In the park there is a statue of the Zagertje on a branch in a large tree on the corner. The male saws the branch he is standing on in half between his feet.

Amsterdam canals cruise In summer you will have to make some effort to spot the sawing statue, placed by an anonymous artist, between the leaves. The American Hotel is located on the port side.

We sail past the Lido complex.

This complex has a beautiful terrace. Unfortunately, mooring is prohibited here. This ban also applies to the scaffolding in front of the Rijksmuseum. If you want to visit the Rijksmuseum by boat, it is best to moor around the corner on the Hobbemakade.

We go port side out of lock no. 209 and under bridge no. 90. After passing the lock, we turn port from bridge no. 89 under the Lijnbaansgracht towards Leidseplein. Having passed the bridge, we turn starboard onto the Spiegelgracht.

The Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is an extension of the Spiegelgracht. There are nice antique shops and numerous galleries here. Café Heuvel is located on the corner of Spiegelgracht and Prinsengracht (see Horeca, page….). Every year at the end of August, a remarkable fishing competition takes place here with open registration.

We turn starboard out of the Prinsengracht.

On the port side (just before the Reguliersgracht) we see the smallest building in Amsterdam, Prinsengracht 1047. If we sail a little past this building, it turns out that it is not only 2.50 m wide, but also approximately the same depth.

Just before the end of the Prinsengracht there is an unsightly ship with a strange structure on the port side. This ship should have left the Amsterdam canals long ago if it had not been one of the last remaining waterboats in Amsterdam. The historic vessel used to bring water from the Vecht to Amsterdam.

We sail from port onto the Amstel. We continue our journey under the Magere Brug in the direction of the Stopera.

On the Amstel, from the Herengracht, there are two buildings to the port side, no. 216. This building belonged to Coenraad van Beuningen, the then mayor, at the end of the seventeenth century. A bad marriage to his wife Jacoba, eighteen years his junior, and the loss of his fortune made him insane. The myth has it that he painted the names of his wife and himself, together with some drawings (including a three-master) on the facade in his own blood. The house is also known as the House with the Bloodstains.

We sail under the Blauwbrug.

The Blauwbrug owes its name to the wooden see-saw bridge that stood from 1600 and was painted blue. According to tour captains, the design of the current bridge is based on the bridges over the Seine in Paris. The lantern supports on the columns, just like the beautiful pillars of the bridge, have the shape of a ship’s bow.

We sail past the Stopera, the city hall and music theater of Amsterdam, in the direction of the Munt.

On the port side between Muntplein and Halve Maansteeg are the ‘Dancing Houses’. The fact that these houses are tilted illustrates the vulnerability of many historic buildings in Amsterdam.

We keep to port and pass under bridge no. 1. The gauge next to the bridge indicates the exact water level.

Bridge no. 1 is the Muntsluis, built as a wooden drawbridge at the end of the 15th century. It is a misconception that this is the oldest bridge in Amsterdam. That is the Old Bridge, dating from the beginning of the fifteenth century.

On the port side we pass the Flower Market.

We end our journey where we started.

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