Amsterdam gable stone: Jesus and two disciples

This gable stone is found in a blind wall at the Begijnhof (Beguinage) — one of Amsterdam’s oldest courtyards

It used to adorn a house at Elandsstraat.

The plague depicts Jesus, after his resurrection, joining two confused disciples on the road to Emmaus. Read the story in Luke 24.

The stone was sculpted after an engraving by Petrus Feddes van Harlingen (1586 – ca. 1634), who in turn had copied Flemish printmaker Claes Janszoon Visscher.

Together with seven other stones the plaque was placed at Begijnhof in 1961, and restored in 2008.

Gable stones were used in the 16th century, in the days before house numbers. There are some 2500 throughout the Netherlands; 850 of which in Amsterdam.


© Photo by Anton Hein. All rights reserved.

Amsterdam Emblem

The three St. Andrew’s crosses in the coat (or emblem) of Amsterdam represent the city’s motto: Heldhaftig (Heroic), Vastberaden (Resolute), Barmhartig (Merciful).

Some people more or less jokingly have update the motto to: Defiant, Stubborn, and Extremely Tolerant.

This version of the emblem of Amsterdam is a detail of a stained glass window at the English Church located in Amsterdam’s Begijnhof.

Prinsengracht and Leidsegracht

While crossing a bridge over the Leidsegracht where it intersects Prinsengracht, Pieter Goemans was inspired to write the song, “Aan de Amsterdamsche Grachten” (To the Canals of Amsterdam). That was in 1949.

Dick Schallies, of the well-known Dutch Metropole Orchestra, wrote a melody for it. Johnny Kraaikamp was the first to sing it, but it wasn’t until 1956 that singer/actor Hans Boskamp cut a record with the song.

Later the song was covered by dozens of artists. The most popular version is by Win Sonneveld.

After Goemans died, in 2000, his ashes were scattered at the intersection of Prinsengracht and Leidsegracht.

The rendition in this video is by Tante Leen, a popular singer from the Jordaan district.

Many a foreigner, while not quite clear on the lyrics, can at least agree with the sentiment of the song:

To the canals of Amsterdam
I have pledged my whole heart
Amsterdam fills my thoughts
As our country’s most beautiful city

All those Amsterdam people
All lights late in the evening on the square
Nobody can wish for anything better
Than to be an Amsterdammer

At house stands at a canal in old Amsterdam
Where as a boy of eight I visited my grandmother
No I see an unfamiliar man in the front room
And that lovely attic has also been turned into an office

Only the trees dream, high above the traffic
And over the water sails a boat, just like back then

In August 2010 Amsterdam’s historic grachtengordel (literally, belt of canals) around the city’s center has been added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.