Monday 7 July 2014

The Grachten Gordel in Amsterdam

The Grachten Gordel (canal ring) in Amsterdam is one of the most picturesque areas in the city. Commencing at the beginning of the 17th century, the building of the canal rings heralded Amsterdam's Golden Age, when it became the most powerful trading city in the world.  Merchant traders built their fashionable houses on the four major rings around the Centrum. The Singel was the original medieval moat of the city and its curving shape is reflected first by the Herengracht (Gentlemen's canal) named after the men who invested in it, then by the Keizersgracht (after the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I), and finally by the Prinsengracht (honouring William, prince of Orange).

The cross-streets that intersect the canals are known as the Negen Straatjes, or Nine Little Streets. They are rich in café and boutique culture and some of the most uniquely themed shops of the city are to be found here: local specialist bakeries, curiosity shops, stylish boutiques, beautiful flower shops.


Café/restaurants near bridges are the most pleasant places to have lunch


affording great views of the canals and of  people going about their business. One day we had our lunch in one of those places and watched the world going by.
An orchid on our table



This is very typical: the steps, the black ironwork, the geraniums 

white is unusual for a house in Amsterdam

This is one of the 'Nine Streets' and because the World Cup was on and Holland were playing, the whole city was decked in orange, but so were people: orange clothing in the form of t-shirts, hats, accessories were to be seen everywhere. The most striking was a woman we saw who was wearing all black except for an orange mini skirt and orange earrings - very stylish, understated, but making the point at the same time.

Not many Art Nouveau buildings in Amsterdam but this is one of them on the Spui and the entry to one of the Nine Streets.

looking closer


Amsterdam style - simple, stylish and effective


We tend to walk this stretch of the city every time we visit Amsterdam: starting from Dam Square, along the four canals while weaving up and down the Nine Streets, ending up at Haarlemmerdijk, a long, busy street and then we walk back to Dam Square - it takes us most of the day to do this walk, with lots of window shopping all along

as well as stopping in the middle of the bridges to canal gaze



Another Art Nouveau building in one of the Nine Streets

and another one


These streets are getting very gentrified: this time we noticed a Karl Lagerfeld shop and other designers seem to be moving in as well

Not much space for tables on the street but somehow they seem to manage it


This is the church near Anne Frank's house, and listening to the bells features in her diary several times

Fleurmonde, one of the numerous flower shops

looking in

looking out

a sculpture on one of the bridges


and as always in Amsterdam, flowers, flowers and more flowers.