When visiting our INK Hotel in Amsterdam, you will automatically visit Amsterdam’s world-famous canal district that was added to UNESCO’S World Heritage List in 2010. The hotel is in the midst of it, residing on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, a former canal that was damped in 1906 (not correct. It was damped in 1884) .
Key features and fun facts of Amsterdam’s architecture
For our guests that are interested in Amsterdam’s history, we’ve selected some key features and fun facts of Amsterdam’s architecture in the Golden Age. Our advice is to just wonder around in the neighbourhood of the hotel and to take a moment every now and then, there's a lot to been seen within a 10-minute walking range. Enjoy!
1. Swampy soil
The soils were so swampy when the canal houses were built, that stilts were used to reach the deeper sand layers beneath the moisty soil. Over the years, this caused the houses to wobble and move a bit, so now they’re often a bit off kilter – on the corner of Geldersekade and Boomsloot you’ll find a striking example of this!
2. Pulleys in the attic
Because the goods were often stored in the attic and the stairways were not ideal to say the least, a special beam or pulley installation would be in the attic to hoist up valuable goods. Funny thing is that these are still being used to this day for when people are moving in or out the modern-day canal houses – check out the top floors to see the hooks that are used for it (example in the photo).
3. Different types of facades.
Broadly there are four types of facades on the canal houses that are mostly seen: stepped gables, neck gables, bell gables and frame facades. We will show you the key features.
The stepped gable
The stepped gable is a traditional top facade where the topside narrows gradually at the top. It was widely used in Amsterdam because the wet climate requires steep roofs on which roof tiles can function optimally. Initially, the stepped gables were very popular in Amsterdam, but they were mostly replaced because of fashion motives. One beautiful example can still be found on Prinsengracht (see image).
The neck gable
The neck gable is a continuation of the stepped gable after being continuously simplified. With the ever-smaller steps, the image of a neck came into being. Most neck gables come from the 18th century, but the first of them were built in the 17th century. It is said that the very first can be seen on Herengracht 168, definitely worth a look!
The bell gable
A bell gable is a facade of which the top has a round shape like that of a clock. This was a continuation of the former neck gable, by adding more and more adornments to the straightened design. Eventually, the facades were built in the bell shape right away – without the ornaments.
The frame facade
A frame facade is a facade that is terminated by a cornice that extends over the entire width. This became gradually more popular in the 18th century because the appearance was chicer. But the replacement often had a practical reason too, namely that the older facades were worn out. We have one in our hotel as a matter of fact, as you can see in the photo and during your stay!