On a recent trip to Italy, my husband and I decided to fly to Amsterdam for the day, then off to Milan. I was not keen on the idea, because I had this mental picture of Amsterdam in my mind. Boy was I surprised! The canals, the architecture, the history, all was overwhelming! Definitely on our list to go back and explore this lovely city in more depth!
The history of the crooked houses is very interesting. The houses were built leaning forward intentionally, which in Dutch is called ‘op de vlucht bouwen’. Until the 19th century the regulations even stated how much the house was to lean forward. A not so intentional lean is caused by the wooden pilings the houses were built on. The pilings were driven through the peat until they hit the first layer of sand. The age and quality of the wood and the fact they were not deep enough caused the houses to sink unevenly. The reason they are crooked. Today the piling are made of steel and are driven deeper, into the second layer of sand.
Amsterdam is the most populated city in the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch but of course everyone speaks English so there is no problem with communicating. Amsterdam is in the Providence of North Holland and is often referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to the number of canals, 165 ranging about 31 miles long. The four main canals are the Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht & Singel. Amsterdam has 1281 bridges. The Amstel River connects with some of the canals and ends in the center of the city. Because Amsterdam sits 6.6 feet below sea level, the city was prone to flooding. The canals were built to control the water flow.
The streets of Amsterdam are very narrow and crowded. The popular mode of transportation is a bike. The combination of bikes, cars, buses, and pedestrians makes getting around the city a little nerve wracking!! I could go on about this lovely city but my words would not do it justice. Definitely a wonderful place to visit!