Canals: the famous waterways of Holland

July 20, 2015

‘Thinking of Holland, I see broad rivers, slow and never ending, flowing through the lowlands, lined with long rows’. – Hendrik Marsman

Many Dutch cities are graced with historic canals: Amsterdam, Alkmaar, Utrecht, The Hague, Dordrecht, Leiden, Groningen, Delft and around 20 other cities which can all be explored by boat. Canals were built for a variety of purposes, such as transportation, irrigation and water removal purposes.

The famous canals of Amsterdam were designed in the 17th Century as a means of excess water management and to serve as ‘additional streets’ for transportation.

Currently the city has more than one hundred kilometres of canals.

The city of Amsterdam is often referred to as “Venice of the North” and its canal district has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In cities such as Leiden and Delft, the canals where designed with transportation in mind. Often, the outer canals surrounding a city acted like a moat and protected the city from foreign invaders. As well as these traditional purposes, some cities used the canals for different reasons. In The Hague, the main purpose of the canals was to transport beer. Since The Hague wasn’t classed as a city in the 17th century, it was not allowed to brew its own beer. Therefore, it had to get its beer from Delft, which was transported through the canals. One of the streets in The Hague is still called the Beerkade (Beer wharf), where they loaded the beer from the canals into the village.

Where can you enjoy Holland’s canals?

  • Cities such as Amsterdam, Leiden, and Delft offer day tours or luxurious dinner cruises
  • Become captain of your own boat – it is possible to hire boats in many cities and tour the canals for yourself
  • In Utrecht, you can dine at water-level along the canal wharfs in a range of charming restaurants

Visit Holland on a short break and experience the true essence of Dutch culture for yourself!

Comments are closed