Amsterdam’s picturesque ring of canals is one of the city’s most iconic sights and after the famous waterways achieved UNESCO World Heritage status back in 2010, a new museum sprung up to celebrate their rich history.
The Het Grachtenhuis, or the Canal House, opened its doors in 2011 and features a series of exhibitions devoted to the history of Amsterdam’s 17th-century canals and the city development project behind them. The self-guided tours utilize audio guides and a series of interactive installations to provide a uniquely entertaining and engaging rundown of how the system was designed and built. 3D video projections, miniature city models, animations and galleries all help to bring the exhibition to life, making it a thoroughly modern museum experience.
The Canal House itself, perched on the banks of the Herengracht or ‘gentleman's canal’, is just as impressive outside as it is from the inside. The mid-17th century stately townhouse was designed by Philips Vingboons and inhabited through the years by a number of prominent Dutch tradesmen, including millionaire Jan Willink (famous for his generous donation to the Americans during the War of Independence). Today, it’s a designated national monument and has been restored to its former glory, with original floors and wall paintings, as well as an idyllic courtyard garden.