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)
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.
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!
…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:
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.