Views from Walking Around Central Amsterdam

by Janis on June 10, 2017

With perfect sunshine and blue skies during our early-June pre-cruise stay in Amsterdam, we became enamored with exploring the city on foot. Spending a day in the Rijksmuseum will have to wait for another visit.

Singel Canal, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsFrom our hotel, we would first cross the Singel Canal as we started out to explore Amsterdam. The large, round copper domed Koepelkerk (a former Lutheran church that’s now an event hall connected by a tunnel to the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel) was a distinctive landmark to guide us when we were ready to head back to our hotel.

Renaissance Amsterdam hotelWe found the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel to be perfectly located for exploring Amsterdam’s canal ring and beyond. The hotel is also a brief walk to the Central Station, and a brief taxi ride to the Amsterdam Passenger Cruise Terminal. A number of river cruise guests were staying at the hotel.

Westertoren ("Western tower" tops Amsterdam's WesterkirkDuring a food walking tour in the Jordaan neighborhood, we learned that in 1489 Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I  gave Amsterdam the right to use his personal Imperial Crown in its coat of arms. The crown can be seen on the spire of Amsterdam’s Westerkerk (West Church.)

In addition to having the tallest tower/spire of all churches in Amsterdam, artist Rembrandt van Rijn was buried in the Westerkerk on October 8, 1669. Although Rembrandt’s art is world renown, he died a poor man and was buried in one of the church-owned graves.  As was was customary for these graves, his remains were removed and destroyed after 20 years.

The Westerkerk is near the Anne Frank House where diarist Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution for two years. In her diary – Anne Frank mentioned the church tower and described the chiming of its carillon as a source of comfort.

gable stone and hook on historic building, Amsterdam

As we walked around Amsterdam’s Canal Ring, we admired the gabled houses with a hook at the top. The hooks are used with a rope and pulley to move heavy and/or bulky items up and through the windows to the top floors. These gabled houses date back as early as the 16th century, but the moving technique continues today.

Walking around Amsterdam’s historic center, we also saw gevelstenen, the Dutch word for gable stones.  These stone carvings were placed on the side of buildings during the 17th century to help walkers find their way. Notice the gevelstenen with a whale in the photo above. The content of gable stones may explain something about the house’s owner. More than 850 of these stones can still be found in Amsterdam.

canal view, AmsterdamIn addition to a beautiful view, the photo above captures a number of special qualities about Amsterdam.  There are 165 canals in Amsterdam covering about 31 miles; more than 2,500  houseboats are moored on these canals.

It is obvious the Dutch people love flowers, they are seen growing everywhere in the city.  Amsterdam is home to the Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market. Founded in 1862, the flower market has 15 florists and is located on the Singel Canal.

Aalsmeer, a Dutch town eight miles southwest of Amsterdam, is home to the world’s largest flower auction.

cat in the window, AmsterdamCats are plentiful in Amsterdam. We enjoyed seeing this cat in the window of his house, with a cat-viewing hold in the window film.  You can also visit De Poezenboot (the Cat Boat), a floating cat shelter that allows tourists to visit for a donation.

Kopjes cat café in Amsterdam West charges visitors three euros entry to spend two hours of quality time with the cafe’s cats who are rescued from local shelters. Visitors can also drink a “catuccino” and eat pastries while visiting the cats.

Amsterdam is also home to Kattenkabinet (The Cat Cabinet) — a small museum specializing in cat art.

shrimp and kibbeling, Vis Plaza, AmsterdamIn order to sustain our miles of walking, we made a late lunch of the shrimp and kibbeling from the Vis Plaza fishmonger in the Jordaan neighborhood. This was one of several terrific local spots we were introduced to during our Jordaan food walking tour.

people-watching from Cafe de Prins, AmsterdamWe also enjoyed people-watching and a local beer while sitting outside at the Cafe de Prins. It was obvious everyone was enjoying the spectacular weather.

Prinsengracht canal after sunset, AmsterdamWe enjoyed one last view of Amsterdam’s Westerkerk with its Imperial Crown spire reflecting into the Prinsengracht canal, just after sunset.

Are you a fan of exploring cities on foot?

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When planning our visit to Amsterdam, we appreciated the detailed maps and descriptions of each neighborhood in this guide:
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Amsterdam

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