The Canal Belt, or “Grachtengordel” in Dutch, is the most beautiful part of Amsterdam and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also my favourite place to wander whenever I’m in the mood for it — there is always something beautiful to admire, always something to grab my attention, always something for me to discover.
The canal belt includes the famous canals Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, built during the 17th century; it is fourteen kilometres (8.7 miles) long in total and crossed by 80 bridges. This incredible area is home to 8,000 monuments, and just keep in mind that it will mark its 4OOth anniversary in 2013, so maybe you can plan a visit soon. It used to be the main financial and entrepreneurial area of the city and now it is the part that no one wants to miss during a visit, attracting masses of tourists and locals. It’s definitely the best place to go for a canal cruise, for a walk or for a drink with friends, and even for shopping or in order to find good photo opportunities. I also find it hoplessly romantic!
For anyone willing to find out more about the history of the Canal Belt, a museum has been opened right in it’s heart at Herengracht 386, in an old beautiful house which used to be (a long time ago) the house of a famous banker: Het Grachtenhuis / The Museum of Amsterdam Canals. If after walking, discovering and admiring all the architecture in the area (or maybe even before that), you want to learn everything about how and why the houses and canals were built, you can pay a visit to this museum. I also plan to visit it soon, but until then I will take many more promenades just to clear my mind and enchant my eyes with the everyday beauty of these places.