Amsterdam is known for its canals and as it has around 165 of them! Still, the Brouwersgracht – in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district – may just be the most charming canal of all. With its picturesque humpback bridges and many houseboats, the Brouwersgracht is particularly pretty.
The Brouwersgracht is on the northern border of the Grachtengordel (canal ring) and construction began here in 1614. The Brouwersgracht means "brewers' canal", since the canal takes its name from the many breweries that lined its banks in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of these have been converted into trendy warehouse apartments, but a few like local favourite Café Thijssen still help quench a visitor’s thirst today. It has been said that Café Tabac is the most photographed café in Amsterdam, as it’s situated on a particularly lovely corner.
Walking along the Brouwersgracht – lined with bicycles – you may feel as if time has stood still. As you stroll, you’ll notice variously shaped gables and the hoisting beams of the houses (which are often still used when people move house today). Also look out for the plaques which described the owner's occupation, in the time before house-numbers were introduced. Of course, the barges, ducks and other floating items mean that the scenery of the Brouwersgracht constantly changes too.
At the point where the Herengracht meets the Brouwersgracht, you’ll find the West-Indisch Huis (West India House). This was the former headquarters of the Dutch West India Company which ran the Nieuw Amsterdam colony (now New York). The West India House was built in 1606 by Hendrick de Keyser and was originally used as the city armoury. In the courtyard is a bronze statue of Peter Stuyvesant, the one-legged governor of Nieuw Amsterdam from 1647 until the British took over in 1664.
The best way to experience the Brouwersgracht is to just go for a stroll through this typical Jordaan neighbourhood!