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Canal houses

Posted on Sep 29, 2011 by

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One of the things that greatly contribute to Amsterdam’s charm are the canal houses.

They are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and there’s a good reason for them to be there. Many of the houses were built during the 17th century at the height of Amsterdam’s Golden Age and were homes and offices for wealthy merchants, bankers, craftsmen, doctors or artists. A characteristic of all canal houses is that they are very narrow but long, with big windows and dangerously narrow stairs inside; the façades are discretely decorated and have a pulley for transporting large objects to upper floors. The reason for this strange architectural decision is a very practical one: back when they were built, the property was taxed according to the width of the façade…

They are like old jewels along the canals — some of them unchanged through the years (given the periodic renovation) while for others only a slight crookedness reveals their true age; they are nevertheless truly beautiful. Most are still the living place for today’s Amsterdammers, some are museums or hotels, so if you’re visiting the city you can admire the exterior and interior and even live in one of these great pieces of history.



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