History of Architecture

The Architectural Marvel

Amsterdam is surely an architecture-lover’s delight with all its sites of interest located at an acceptable distance. One of Europe’s foremost architecture and design cities, Amsterdam is also the place where modern architecture developed organically between facades of historical buildings.

The City Centre

The famous crescent shape of the Amsterdam city centre was designed during the 17th century and resulted in the unique ring of canals that forms the basis for the entire architectural design of Amsterdam.

A quick glance at some of the basic characteristics of the Amsterdam’s cityscape:

Existence of facades

The facades are usually made of brick and attached to the framework through short wall-ties. As the metal short wall-ties disintegrate with age, the façade can pull away from the structure. Narrow plots that result in deep and elongated ground planes. For this reason, the roofs are at right angles to the facades, which led to the addition of the ornamental gable top. Unity of sizes and use of materials, with negligible differences, red brick or sandstone facades with sandstone ornaments decorating top gable and entrance. Facades leaning slightly forward and cantilevering. Stoops, side steps, cellar shops and hoist beams.

Famous Architects

Amsterdam boasts of some of the finest architects, whose finesse and creative expertise is reflected in the structures designed by them. The Utrecht born Hendrick de Keyser is known to have single-handedly created the Amsterdam Renaissance style of today through his novel approach to the local renaissance styles that developed throughout the Netherlands. Jacob van Campen, a familiar figure amongst the upper classes of the 17th century Holland is best known for his masterpiece, the Town Hall in the Dam Square. Other famous architects include Philips Vingboons, Daniel Stalpaert, Justus Vingboons, Adriaan Dortsman, Elias Bouman, Daniel Marot and many more.

The Canal Houses

The lovely city of Amsterdam is famous for its canals. It is the place to be in if you want to research some unique architecture. Majority of the homes found in Amsterdam are the Canal Houses, also known as the Merchants’ Houses. Many of these are found in the US, especially in the New York City. The Dutch carried this style along with when they sailed to the New World and established the city of New Amsterdam, which later became the New York City. The architectural perfection of Amsterdam is perhaps best exemplified in these canal houses. Definitely the defining structure of the Amsterdam’s architectural design, the Canal houses are typically narrow houses with no space between them. Since space has always been a precious commodity, the Dutch learned to build up, early on. Hence, these houses are less than 30-feet wide and several stories tall and are normally built as residences of wealthy citizens. Interestingly, in the New York City, these canal houses are called the brownstones’ because of the brown stone used in the past for their construction.

Canal Apartments

Meanwhile, history also witnessed development of apartments within these canal houses. These apartments are best known for their immensely beautiful and breathtaking canal-side views. Quite a few of them undergo periodical renovations and overhauls to incorporate the latest resident-friendly amenities.

The Convenient Apartments

The fine apartments overlooking canals in the picturesque centre of Amsterdam are fast becoming the first choice of those wanting a temporary settlement, whether for business or any other use. Recently, a few historical houses have been restored and preserved to be used as apartments for commercial use. One of the main ones includes the Paard Van Aemstel. This historical house is all set to be given out to businessmen fro short term use. The period of stay can last from 3 weeks to 3 or 4 months.
On similar lines, Reguliersgracht 82 is also on offer for short term stay for commercial use.


Interestingly, on February 1st, 1999, the Dutch government decided to qualify the inner city of Amsterdam as a monument, a protected inner city view. The girdle of canals ranging from the Singel canal upto the Prinsengracht canal is a historically important part of this region. The girdle of canals starts at River Asmtel and ends at the Brouwergracht.