LENGTH : MEDIUM
The Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal), named after the sixteenth century prince William of Orange, forefather of the Dutch royal family, cuts through the heart of Amsterdam, with a host of fascinating stops along the way.
Take tram 3 to the corner of Marnixstraat and Willemstraat, then walk up Willemstraat, turn right onto Brouwersgracht, and right again onto Prinsengracht. A few steps along Prinsengracht you’ll find the Noordermarkt, on which stands the seventeenth-century Noorderkerk (North Church) (1), built as a place for Amsterdam’s poor to worship. On Monday mornings the Noordermarkt hosts a fun flea market, and on Saturdays an organic farmers’ market. Continue down Prinsengracht to visit the sobering Anne Frankhuis (2) (#263), where the young Anne Frank wrote her famous diary while hiding from the Nazis. Carry on along to the Westermarkt, where the Westerkerk (West Church) (3), the Noorderkerk’s upperclass cousin, commands great views from the top of its tower. Further down Prinsengracht, drop into the Frozen Fountain (4) (#645) for cutting-edge furniture by young Dutch designers, then stop at Café de Pieper (5) (#424) for a beer at the atmospheric seventeenth-century “brown café.” Continue on, looking out for the monumental neoclassical Paleis van Justitie (6) (Court of Appeal) #436—once the city orphanage—and the Renaissance influenced Milk Factory (7) (#739–741), where the city’s milk supply was first sanitized in the nineteenth century. Grab a bagel at Village Bagels (8) (Vijzelstraat #137) on the corner of Vijzelstraat, stop further along Prinsengracht at Le Zinc et Les Autres (9) (#999) for a fantastic French dinner (it’s open evenings only). Further along Prinsengracht you’ll come to the Amstelveld square, with its unusual wooden church, the Amstelkerk (10). Built as a temporary structure in the seventeenth century, it’s still in use today. Opposite, at #756, is the Catholic church De Duif (The Dove) (11), built in the late eighteenth century. Continue on, picking up tram 4 where the Utrechtsestraat bridge crosses Prinsengracht.
Purchase City Walks: Amsterdam
Text © 2006 Amelia Thomas
Maps © 2006 John Spelman