Western canal belt

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Western canal belt AmsterdamThis area includes the three principal canals – Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht – that lie in half moon form around the old center, beginning in the north at Brouwersgracht. The area ‘Western canal belt’ (Grachtengordel) continues as far as Utrechtsestraat that bisects the canals in the east.

In 1612 a major urban expansion began with the excavation of the three principal canals, first from the north to as far as Leidsegracht, after which the canals were extended in 1658 to past Utrechtsestraat.

leidsegrachtIn what is a relatively restricted area there are more than 8000 listed, historic buildings. The coherence of its civic dwelling architecture is what the city is so renowned for and then particularly the many canals with canal houses.

To the south of Brouwersgracht, which owes its name to the many beer brewers that operated here in the 16th and 17th centuries, many small streets run between the principal canals. These streets provide accommodation to numerous restaurants, cafes and boutiques, from haute couture to second-hand and from sober lunchrooms to delicatessens, specialized whisky stores and confectioners.

The area of Western canal belt Amsterdam is bisected by Leidsestraat (tramline 1, 2, 5) that unites Koningsplein and Leidseplein. This used to be the street for travel agents and airline offices, a few elegant stores (jewelry, bespoke tailoring and quality shoes). However since the 1980s this has given way to mainly ready-to-wear and gift shops, an exception being Metz on the Keizersgracht and its roof terrace with its magnificent view.

The main building on Leidseplein is, opposite the American Hotel, de Stadschouwburg (city theatre). In its vicinity on Leidseplein and the many streets around it are smaller restaurants with Indian, Italian, Greek and Japanese cuisine. There are also a large number of cinemas and theatres (Bellevue, Nieuwe de la Mar, De Balie).

The southern section of this Western canal belt area is fairly quiet with as only busy street Vijzelstraat and eastwards of it one of the loveliest canals of Amsterdam, Reguliersgracht.

Accessibility: Throughout: tram 14,17,1,5,2,24,4)

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