The Canal Houses of Amsterdam

The canal houses, which were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010, are a reflection of the Golden Age of The Netherlands and Amsterdam. The houses give a glimpse into the past of Amsterdam and its inhabitants. Many of the canal houses are built in the heyday of Amsterdam in the 17th century, also called the Golden Age. The canal houses are built on high stilts, resting on a layer of sand beneath the boggy soil layer. The down stairs was meant for merchants and servants and the up stairs was meant for important visitors.

Canal Houses

From the 13th to the 15th century the canal houses were built of wood, for this reason a large part of Amsterdam was destroyed by fire. People started to place stone walls against the wooden houses. The facade of the canal house tells you in which era the house was built.

Until 1550: wooden facade (Begijnhof 34)

houten gevel Begijnhof 34

1600 – 1665: the stepped facade (Nieuwmarkt 20)

Nieuwmarkt 20 Trapgevels


1640 – 1770: the neck facade (Herengracht 510)

halsgevel Amsterdam


1660 – 1790: the bell-shaped facade (Nieuwe Prinsengracht 45)

klok halsgevel

1600 – 1790: the list facade (Keizersgracht)