Local Heart, Global Soul

April 4, 2013

You Take The Low Road and I’ll Take The … ….Lower (Canal) Road!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuance of yesterdays post, our train journey has bought us to the city of Utrecht. We had booked a boat trip for our two families on one of the canal tour boats and needed to find the place where the boat will be moored. Luckily the distance from the station is relatively short and we find it without problem.

The reason we have bought them to Utrecht is because these canals are unlike most other canals in Dutch cities. Basically the Gracht (canal) runs though the city centre, nothing new or different about that, but it’s like there are streets beneath streets here… what you might call the lower street runs along the canal and is lined with wharfs,  warehouses and commercial cellars… and then above those are the regular streets above, with  the usual things you’d expect to see: shops, houses etc.

In centuries past the canal was the main mode of transport, everything:  building materials, industrial goods, food, cloth, livestock and beer were delivered by boat, since the dirt or cobbled roads were narrow and congested.

These days some of the cellars and warehouses have been converted into artisan workshops, restaurants, cafés,  boutiques  and have found more fashionable and up to date uses than just storage of commercial goods. Even the space under some of the bridges has been used… one of them was the local jail… looking dark, damp and cramped, I hope it acted as a deterrent for some would-be criminals. A more recent, World War II addition to another bridge is a German bunker.

In a few spots there are some wide steps that lead up to the upper street level. We learn that the particular one in my photo are 34 such steps dating from the 1600’s that could be used to get water quickly from the canal to the upper street above whenever there was a fire:  no hoses or pumps or course, just a bucket line and a lot of frantic work.

Let’s take a closer look at this unusual configuration of upper and lower streets…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

17 may 38 (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

2 Comments »

  1. Enjoyed this post. Great to be able to visit your place in this way

    Comment by kiwiskan — April 4, 2013 @ 2:34 am | Reply

  2. What a beautiful place. It sounds so serene, being able to float through the middle of a city.

    Comment by Luddy's Lens — April 8, 2013 @ 1:02 pm | Reply


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