Boat Tour of Amsterdam
Amsterdam was an incredible place to explore and tour around. The walkability of the city was very stress-relieving as a pedestrian, and the abundance of bike paths was extremely refreshing. On the first day, our class got to enjoy a canal cruise on a boat steered by a local. We slowly worked our way through a large network of canals within central Amsterdam. The series of canals encircle in a horseshoe type shape which cross each other through the city. There were many houseboats (over 2000!), bridges, and tourists lounging on the canal walls. I found out that the locks (currently unused) used to be in operation before the sea levels were dammed to the north. This has to do with water level control, dealt with by the Waterboards. Regardless, the locks were a nice touch of historic water control.
This was one of the first pictures taken on the trip, here showcasing Amsterdam Centraal Station. The clock on the left tower is not actually a clock, but a weather vane!
This is where we as a class waited for our tour guide to arrive.
As one can see, some houses did not have room in the city to conform to traditional right- angled principles. It would be a really cool experience to live in the far right house for a while.
The Montelbaanstoren Tower on the bank of the canal (now occupied as a residence), used to be part of the original medieval walls of Amsterdam for the purpose of watch and defense. I am certainly glad this tower has been well preserved for the benefit of historians, as well as others.
One of the many different canal views we had the chance to experience. This drawbridge is of a simple and effective design, and is just elevated enough to allow us to pass under it.
This is the row of consecutive bridges as far as you can see. I believe there are seven of them.
Walking Tour of Amsterdam
The second day was spent walking around Central Amsterdam. This is where we heavily focused on the buildings and the thinking that went into them. Essentially every building, house or otherwise, has gables at the tops of the structures, many times as an extension of the upper-most roof beam. Each gable has a hook with a pulley (and a rope when in use). Most of the buildings are built on a forwards lean. This is because the lean aids in lifting furniture and the like up by means of the gable and into the front-facing windows. My only question is: why not just lengthen the gable instead of constructing leaning buildings? Houses that lean sideways or backwards however are most likely on weakening foundations such as; rotting wood, shifting or sinking earth, etc. The buildings are kept on wooden supports 10 centimetres under the water in order to prevent rotting. The canals are a huge part of the city because they were/are used to transport goods by boat and then up into the buildings by means of the hook hoists.
When Amsterdam’s Jewish neighbourhood was evacuated, there was a very cold winter. Citizens were freezing, so they took most of the wood and wooden supplies from the houses to burn in order to keep warm. The houses deteriorated and became trash and were eventually cleared away. In the 1960’s/1970’s university students designed new residential buildings to be constructed, and they are what stand present today.
Here we are standing in Dam Square in front of The Royal Palace of Amsterdam. We were on our way to have an awesome time at Heineken Experience.
The building in red is Amsterdam’s skinniest house! It is amazingly only one door frame wide. Historically, when property was sold, it was valued by width, not depth. This is why many Amsterdam houses are narrow – especially this one. Houses are preferred slender to save money on property taxes, and this owner is saving a fortune.
The many varying building facade designs are intriguing when side by side.
This is where our class finished the walking tour: at the Waag. This historic building used to be a gate along the old city wall. It is also situated on a dike. There were market stands sharing the space in the square also. At first I believed that it was a castle, but it now makes sense that it was a city gate. At the time this was the extent of the inner city, not to mention castles would need to be more centralized in the old city: an area like Dam Square for example.
This city has so many old and new ways of life all mixed together to create a multi-level puzzle of ordered chaos.
I am very glad that my person or my belongings did not end up in any of the canals. It is also somber to hear that drunk people perish in the canals when they are not being careful.
A beautiful evening in the city
The National Monument in Dam Square symbolizes the mass loss of life in World War 2. It seems to resemble a large sword.