Grachtengordel has a high violent crime rate and a high property crime rate for Amsterdam.
Try pronouncing it: "Grachtengordel". I bet you have a hard time and might even find the sound off-putting. Yet this area attracts millions of tourists every year and was listed as a Unesco world heritage site in 2010. This is the heart of Amsterdam's famous canal zone -- the horseshoe-shaped ring of canals around the old center of town. The inner one is the original moat, and the other three were dug in the 17th Century at the height of Amsterdam’s golden age.
The glorious mansions along them were the homes of those who became rich from The Netherland’s trade businesses. Nowadays, most of them are split into (still grand) apartments or offices. It still is one of the most desirable places to live in town if you have the money to afford it.
A few large, wide streets for traffic and trams intersect the canals. But also intersecting the canals are many small narrow streets, in turn sometimes intersected by streets formerly used to access the carriage houses of the mansions, or the servants' entrances.
It’s in these streets, off the main canal ring, where you will find some of the best shops, restaurants, and cafés in the area. The main nightlife squares, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein, are also within the Canal district boundaries. Locals tend to avoid these as much as possible since they're mostly a tourist attraction.
Housing prices are among Amsterdam’s highest here. And living here comes with some setbacks like very limited, if any, parking. But the sheer joy of overlooking one of those glorious canals, often from windows that are nearly10 feet tall, will make you forget all about this.
With limited parks and green space, some might argue this isn't the best spot to raise kids. But couples or singles with a bit of money to spend and an eagerness to experience the best Amsterdam has to offer will love it here.
If vintage accessories, quaint antiques, designer clothes, gourmet restaurants, and cozy little bars are your thing; come here. These streets were once the center of trade in animal hides and are now the epicenter of the Amsterdam fashion scene. Expect a lot of fashionistas here, but also moms with kids in strollers and many tourists.
This large but intimate bar/café is situated at the very beginning of the old moat Singel. The building is a stunning 17th Century warehouse. Nothing fancy here but you'll find good coffee, a decent lunch and dinner menu, and a great terrace for sunny days. Due to its proximity to Central Station, this is a good spot for quick meetings with people from out of town.
Until recently, Haarlemmerstraat was hailed as the best of the 9 streets for shopping. But Utrechtsestraat, on the other end of the canal ring, is rapidly taking the first spot, especially when it comes to furniture and accessories. Many of the more edgier retail chains like American Apparel and Sissy Boy deliberately set up shop here, also attracting an influx of small boutiques. But it has also always been the go-to street for high-end shoes, quality clothing, and designer furniture. It’s also home to Amsterdam’s favorite record store where vinyl is still very much a commodity. All this, and its many bars and restaurants, make this a staple for hipsters, students, families, and professional alike.
If you want to learn about the 400-year old history of Amsterdam’s canals, this museum can’t be missed. It's located in a 17th Century canal mansion and boasts many interactive displays giving you insight in how the canals came to be, what their function was and is, and how they now have UNESCO heritage status.
Not far from the hustle and bustle of Leidseplein is Amsterdam’s antique and arts district. More than 70 specialized shops, galleries, studios, and dealers cater to any art aficionado’s needs. From historic local and exotic treasures, antiques, ceramics, and prints to modern arts, jewelry and clocks.
Photo Credits: Thanks to @yahircerva, @beesherwooood, @ronnie__m, @cantaveneravincenzo, @_instanouk, @bom_sonho, @fefedes, @j.a.c.i.n.t.a_, @mundodoturista, @domenicoeanto6, @raphabrilhante, @k2im, @angelobarile_, @westerkerkamsterdam, @bettinacapri, @olga_kolganova, @liceinwonderland, @amsterdam__photography, @jufoto for your great photos of this neighborhood!
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