Local Heart, Global Soul

March 18, 2011

Famous are the Wide, Narrow, Hidden … and even maybe Catty.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In  posts earlier this week I’ve introduced you to the  St Nicolaas  Boat Club of Amsterdam. (http://amsterdamboatclub.com/index.html)

These are archive photos from last summer when Himself and I found ourselves with an unexpected kid-free weekend and decided to make the most of it.

In centuries past, Dutch taxes methods have been been a little strange by today’s standards. (Ok they are still strange, but you know what I mean).

Various methods were employed to determine your “value” and hence how much you would owe the tax man.

At one point in Dutch history, taxes were imposed based on the size of the windows on the front of your house. Naturally the Dutch made alterations to their windows  to get around the tax man.

Later, taxes were determined by the width of your house, and since the battle with water and the scarcity of land  in The Netherlands is a centuries old one, property prices in Amsterdam have always been at a premium.

Therefore it comes as no surprise that the city is full of very narrow houses, but that said, some are far narrower than most. Four of the most famous ones (for different reasons) are to be found close together in the city centre.

The narrowest house in the world can be found alongside the canal called the Singel, the address is Singel 7 . At only 1 meter broad, the house is only fractionally wider than the front door.

That said, it’s claim to fame could be contested slightly because it would be slightly more honest to call it the “smallest facade in the world”  since the actual house opens out to a more normal width as you progress inside.

Another of the world’s skinniest houses can be found at Oude Hoogstraat 22,  but the smallest one with the best “story” would have to go to the house that stands at Kloveniersburgwal 26, known locally as “het Kleine Trippenhuis'” (the Little Trip House)  or as “Mr Trip’s Coachman’s House”.  The  Little Trip House is only  2.44m wide and somewhat ironically it stands on the canal, opposite the widest house  in Amsterdam that has it’s address at Kloveniersburgwal 29.

The history of the two are strangely  inter-connected.

The widest house was built in 1660 by Lodewijk and Hendrik Trip,  brothers  who made their fortune  trading in copper, iron and munitions.

The Trip house stands at an amazing 26 meters wide, and the story goes that apparently one of the brothers overheard their coachman exclaim one day, “Oh, if only I could be so lucky as to have a house as wide as my master’s door.” … and (surely with some sense of humour) built a house exactly to his coachman’s wishes on the opposite side of the canal.

(The little house pictured below is yet another one of the narrowest houses in A’dam…  it’s the same width all the way back)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Probably by far the most famous house in Amsterdam is the “Anne Frankhuis” (Anne Frank house) . It’s a building that dates back to the 17th Century and sits facing the canal at Prinsengracht 267.

As a Jew, Anne was forced into hiding with her family during Amsterdam’s Nazi occupation in World War 2, and although she perished in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, the diary that she kept whilst in hiding in Amsterdam survived to become one of the worlds most read books.

The house is now a museum that can be visited by the public.  One top tip though… is to get there early, before opening time to avoid the masses AND book your tickets on-line because the queue throughout the summertime invariably extends around the block.

(Here are the photos to prove it)

Anne Frankhuis   /  Prinsengracht 267, Amsterdam /   Tram 13, 14, 17 (stop: Westermarkt) /  Tel (020) 5567105 / Website http://www.annefrank.org/ /     Admission €8.50 /   Open 2 Jan-24 Mar 9am-7pm daily; 25 Mar-31 Aug 9am-9pm daily; 1 Sep-30 Dec 9am-7pm daily.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now, here are some quirky bits for you… imagine you are putting along the canals of Amsterdam in a small boat,  and you see a “houseboat”  with a difference!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…not a home for people, but a home for Cats!

You can find the “De Poezenboot” (The Cat Boat) at  Singel 38.G ,  (1015 AB Amsterdam).

It’s what the Dutch call a “dierenasiel”  (which literally translates as “animal asylum centre” ) where stray and abandoned cats are taken care of.

They’ve been in the business of caring for cats for decades and if you’d like to know more, they have a website:

http://www.poezenboot.nl/

which is in Dutch, but if  you scroll down the page, on the very bottom left you’ll find a UK Flag, click on that to get the English translation of the text.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

11 Comments »

  1. Now that is an absolute first in my experience. A floating kitty shelter. I am really enjoying your stories about the canals.

    Comment by Gerry — March 18, 2011 @ 2:26 am | Reply

    • Thanks for the compliment Gerry!
      My camera case is nicely padded, so that you may sit comfortably during your virtual ride LOL!
      There’s more, there’s more… so get yourself a cup of your favourite brew, and tune in daily as I show you what’s around the next corner!

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 18, 2011 @ 4:49 am | Reply

  2. Lovely!

    I have visited in Anne Frankhuis and bought from there a book, of course. The story of Anna Frank is very well known in Finland.

    Those canals. If I remember correct I have been on four canal cruises. Twice with my wife, one with my daughter and once with my son. Those house boats are marvelous. Now You may wonder why we have visited in Amsterdam so many times, maybe six or seven times. Well, when we moved here where we live now, my wife bought flower seed from there. Nowadays it is easy to get them, but the situation was different in the beginning of 1990.

    Happy weekend.

    Comment by sartenada — March 18, 2011 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  3. If you love Flowers then I will HAVE to take you on a blog tour of the Keukenhof one time. It’s a HUGE flower show here that opens 24th March, and runs until mid May but since it requires a lot of walking I won’t be mobile enough to get there this year. It’s an annual event though so I will try and get there next year.

    Comment by Kiwidutch — March 18, 2011 @ 11:55 am | Reply

    • Well, we would be very happy. Is it the same flower expo which is held every ten years? Once we visited there and it was great!

      That is a pity if it is closed before June, because my wife has her vacation at the end of May.

      Comment by sartenada — March 18, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

      • Sadly it closes May 20th, maybe something for after she retires?
        The Big one that’s every year is the “Keukenhof” which is always in the same place and the even bigger one every ten years is the “De Floriade” and is in different places in the Netherlands each time.
        The next “Floriade” will be in 2012 in Venlo.

        Comment by kiwidutch — March 18, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  4. Well, know I have see everything. A floating home for wayward felines. How every nice of the people running it to do so. The cats seem to like it.

    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — March 18, 2011 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

    • I’m sure the cats like it a lot… they can even spend their days “people watching” on the canal LOL.
      I’m fairly sure that the netting is on the sides of houseboat to stop visitors falling into the canal, not cats… as I don’t think that any feline that would willingly go into the water.
      You never know though?… maybe some would!
      With the mesh up, everyone can feel safe :) Nice to see people caring too.

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 18, 2011 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  5. Thank You so much when replying to my comment. It was really Floriade, now I remember it, in which we visited for long time ago. Well, let’s meet there in 2012. Then my wife is retired. :)

    Comment by sartenada — March 18, 2011 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

    • Sounds like a lovely idea Matti !!! I’d love to be your guide, and show you around :)

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 18, 2011 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  6. What an adventure on the canal! Such history with the houses…from avoiding the taxman to a floating kitty sanctuary! Wondeful stories and information all around!

    Comment by milkayphoto — March 24, 2011 @ 6:12 pm | Reply


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