The Canals of Amsterdam

Originally the canals of Amsterdam had several functions:

• they allowed for goods to be delivered from the harbor (and the markets at Dam square and Nieuwmarkt) to storage facilities and stores throughout thecity.

• they were used as defence moats

• they served to guide the water of the Amstel River through its former delta.

Nowadays its most popular use is recreation.

Taking a canal tour is one of Amsterdam’s top tourist attractions.

Swimming in the canals is discouraged — if not outright prohibited. People do fall in, though. Those who live to tell about it are always taken to a hospital for a tetanus shot.

Note that many of the houseboats lining the canals are not yet hooked up to the city’s sewer system.