Walking route along the southern canals
Discover the majestic canals, go shopping in The 9 Little Streets, visit a canal museum or enjoy a drink with a beautiful view.
A) Museum of the Canals
The walk starts at the “Museum of the Canals” at Herengracht 386: the ideal start for a walk along the canals. This museum opened in 2010 when the Amsterdam ring of canals was added to Unesco’s World Heritage list. The museum is situated in a monumental canal house on the Herengracht, where you are taken on a whirlwind journey through four hundred years of history. The Museum of the Canals shows you not only why the creation of the Amsterdam canals was so unusual, but also why they are still special today. Admire the beautiful rooms and the impressive garden. The large house became an official monument in 1970. After the Museum of the Canals, continue north on Herengracht. This area is called De 9 Straatjes (9 little streets) and is best-known for shopping. Turn left on Wolvenstraat.
B) Johnny Jordaanplein
Among many other things, the Jordaan is known for its Dutch singers with a typical Amsterdam sound. After famous singer Johnny Jordaan died in 1989, people raised funds to put a statue of him on Elandsgracht. In 1991, the square was named after the singer. In the years that followed, statues of other singers were added: Tante Leen (1994), Johnny Meijer (1996), Manke Nelis (2005) and Bolle Jan and Mien Froger (2010). The square is recently renovated, and a playground for children was added. Here, in the water of the canal ‘Prinsengracht’ the Houseboat Museum is located. In this small museum, you can experience what it is like to live in a houseboat in Amsterdam.
If you feel a bit hungry, we would love to give you a tip on your way to the next stop. For high quality hamburgers, go to Ellis Gourmet Burger at Prinsengracht 422. On the other side of Elandsgracht, you will find the immense Antiques Centre Amsterdam, where you could stroll around for hours!
C) Prinsengracht 681-693
At the opposite side of the canal, on Prinsengracht 681-693 you can see seven warehouses with identical neck gables. These warehouses were built by Benjamin Dutry in the beginning of the 18th century and still remain in the original state. They are named after the seven provinces of the Republic. Even in that time, it was very special Mr. Dutry could acquire so many metres to build seven houses next to each other.
The big building on this side of the canal, on Prinsengracht 432-436 was an orphanage from 1666 until 1825. The orphanage was called ‘Aalmoezeniersweeshuis’ and was meant for the poorest foundlings and orphans, of parents without denomination. In the beginning there were 800 children. 15 years later, this number had increased to 1.300. By expansion of the building and moreover creative use of space, the orphanage housed 2.554 children in 1807. At that time, living conditions were poor and many children suffered from illness. As from the year 1820 they started to move the orphans to the countryside.
After the building was empty, it was converted into the “Palace of Justice”, the Amsterdam supreme court, which stayed there for a long time. Just a few years ago, the court moved to the area Westerdok. The enormous building was sold to a property developer, who will convert in, yet another, luxurious hotel.
D) Grill's Hofje
Walk further along Prinsengracht and cross the bridge over Spiegelgracht. This neighbourhood houses many galleries and antique shops. Immediately after the bridge, turn right on Spiegelgracht and and turn right again on Eerste Weteringdwarsstraat. On house number 19-35 you will see a charming courtyard called Grill's Hofje, founded by married couple Anthonie and Elisabeth Grill and built between 1724 and 1726. It consisted of 16 one-room apartments, 8 apartments per floor. Back then, two women lived in each apartment, but in the 19th century this was brought back to one woman per apartment. After the last renovation, the courtyard nowadays consists of 4 apartments on the ground floor and 4 apartments on the second floor. The courtyard is open daily between 7am-7pm.
This spacious square is a popular place of locals with children. It has a restaurant with a large terrace, a football field and a small playround. The large trees and the jeu de boules court make you feel as you are in a quiet French village; a peaceful oasis on warm days. Each Monday there is a flower- and plantsmarket and it is a nice location for small scale events, such as classical concerts during ‘Klassiek op het Amstelveld’. Do you see the funny statue? It is merchant Kokadorus who sells suspenders (“they are so strong, you could hang your mother-in-law on them”).
F) Magere Brug
Walk along Kerkstraat to the Amstel river. De Kerkstraat is situated between two canals: Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht and was built to give the canal houses a back entrance for the horse-drawn carriages. The original plan was that this street would connect four churches (‘Kerk’ means Church), but in the end, only two of them were built; the Amstelkerk and Oosterkerk.
Originally the Magere Brug (‘skinny bridge’) over the Amstel river was made of wood and has been replaced an renovated many times in history. The current bridge meets the requirements of modern times but is actually not so skinny anymore. You can see the bridge in many films, such as James Bond - Diamonds Are Forever. In 2011, the 1.800 light bulbs that illuminated the bridge at night, were replaced with LED lights.
On the other side across the river you can see Theatre Carré and on the left the Hermitage Museum.
This small square is situated next to the well-known Rembrandtplein and is named after a liberal politician named Johan Rudolph Thorbecke, who made a major contribution to the constitional law of The Netherlands. If you look in southern direction from the bridge you see a canal called Reguliersgracht. From this point of view you can see as much as 7 bridges in a row. A spectactular view, especially in the evening, when all bridges are illuminated.
Behind Thorbeckeplein lies the famous Rembrandtplein. In the middle of this square you can admire an enormous statue of painter Rembrandt, together with bronze statues that represent the characters from his famous painting De Nachtwacht (Nightwatch). The historic building that houses NH Hotel Schiller and Brasserie Schiller was named after owner George Schiller, who acquired it in 1886. In the evenings, Brasserie Schiller is the décor of a daily talkshow that is broadcasted on national television. The paintings of George’s son Frits still decorate the walls in the art deco interior of the hotel. Since 2000 the hotel belongs to the Spanish hotel chain NH Hotels.
H) Stadsarchief (city archives)
The Vijzelstraat used to be a lot smaller than nowadays, it was only 7 metres wide. In the beginning of the 20th century, property owners were disowned in order to widen the street to an impressive 22 metres. De Vijzelstraat is an important tansport hub in the city, therefore the street is constantly ‘on the move’ to meet the requirements of the time. Under the Vijzelstraat lies the much-discussed new metro line that runs from Amsterdam North to Amsterdam South. The construction started as early as in 2003 and after postponing the date of completion, the festive opening took finally place on 22nd July 2018.
At Vijzelstraat 32 you see the striking building "De Bazel", which is the most famous work of and named after architect Karel de Bazel. Until 1999 this was the main office of ABN Amro Bank. When the bank moved to business area Zuidas, the City Archives took entrance. The archives are open for the public from Tuesday until Sunday. There is also a city book store (Stadsboekwinkel) with books about Amsterdam. Guided tours through the beautiful building can be arranged by appointment.
I) Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend)
The part between Vijzelstraat and Leisestraat is the most prestigious part of the Herengracht. This was the place where the wealthy merchants lived during the Golden Age. Nowadays the area houses mainly offices. One of the largest buildings is Huis de Neufville at Herengracht 475. The plot was acquired by merchant Deny Nuyts in 1665 and it was large enough to build 3 houses on it. The largest house was situated in the middle and was sold in 1730 for a humble € 31.000 euro. In the course of the ages, the house was renovated several towns and a beautiful garden in Louis XIV style.
In front of Herengracht 486, you could step on board of the Amsterdam Circle Line, for which you could choose between a round cruise of 1,5 hours to this location again, or a 24hr hop on hop off ticket.
J) Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
Nowadays the Flower Market is a popular tourist attraction, mainly to buy flower bulbs and souvenirs. Still this is a market with a rich history. In 1883 the local market for trees and plants (no flowers back then) had to move when the canal on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal was filled-in. Because the flowers and plants came to the city center by boat, it was convenient that the market stayed on the water. Allthough it is tempting to adjust the assortment to tourists, the local government has set strict rules: all goods that are sold have to be related to flowers and plants. The souvenir and cheese in the surroundings make take advantage of the attraction of the Flowermarket to tourists.
From Koningsplein the Heiligeweg leads you to the most famous shopping street of The Netherlands: Kalverstraat. The Heiligeweg (‘holy road’) used to lead to a chapel, where the Miracle of Amsterdam took place in 1345. In short, this was a miraculous self-delocation of a sacred host. The host was brought to the Old Church twice, but returned to a house on Kalverstraat by itself.
The Voetboogstraat is a small side street of Heiligeweg. In this small street you can find a few Dutch culinary treasures. At Vleminckx it’s likely you have to wait in line in order to get the best fries in Amsterdam – with a large assortment of sauces to choose from. Don't forget visiting Brasserie Silom Thai, one of the best Thai restaurants in town! The streets Voetboogstraat and Handboogstraat refer to the different weapons that were used to defend the city in the 17th century.