The Keizersgracht (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkɛizərsˌxrɑxt]; "Emperor's canal") is a canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It is the second of the three main Amsterdam canals that together form the Grachtengordel, or canal belt, and lies between the inner Herengracht and outer Prinsengracht.

Huidenstraat - Runstraat bridge over Keizersgracht, Negen Straatjes, July 2019
Keizersgracht is between the outer Prinsengracht and the inner Herengracht and Singel
Length2.8 kilometres (1.7 mi)
Postal code1015, 1016, 1017
Coordinates52°22′17″N 4°53′05″E / 52.371425°N 4.884780°E / 52.371425; 4.884780
Northwest endBrouwersgracht
Construction start17th century

History edit

The first part of the Keizersgracht, between Brouwersgracht and (approximately) the current Leidsegracht, was dug in the summer of 1615 at the initiative of mayor Frans Hendricksz. Oetgens, city carpenter Hendrick Jacobsz Staets and city surveyor Lucas Jansz Sinck. The Keizersgracht was named after Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.[1] It is the widest canal in the center of Amsterdam, namely one hundred Amsterdam feet, that is 28.31 metres (92.9 ft). The Keizersgracht is the second of the three main canals to have been dug; the Prinsengracht was dug in 1614.

In September 1614 there arose an intention to turn the Keizersgracht into a chic boulevard without water, following the example of Lange Voorhout in The Hague. This idea was abandoned for a number of reasons. It was expected that the future buyers of lots on the Keizersgracht would want to be able to reach their home or warehouse by boat. Other considerations may have been the need for water storage, the easier supply of building and raising material, but especially the shortage of infill material. The construction of the fortifications at the same time also required a lot of infill material.

The allotment on the east side was completed in November 1615. The plots were given the same width, 30 feet, as on the Herengracht. The buildings went up quickly; by 1618 hardly any vacant lots remained.

The section between the Leidsegracht and the Amstel belongs to the fourth Amsterdam expansion of 1658. The actual digging of this part of the Keizersgracht began in 1663. In 1667 both parts of the Keizersgracht were connected to each other. The section between the Amstel and the Plantage Muidergracht was laid last. This part was named Nieuwe Keizersgracht. During the second phase in 1663, city architect Daniël Stalpaert devised an additional street between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, the Kerkstraat, in order to provide the canal houses with a back entrance where they could build a coach house.

In 1949 the municipality had all the trees on the canal cut down due to the elm disease, after which linden trees were planted.

Architecture and monuments edit

There are many monuments and monumental canal houses on the Keizersgracht, including:

Even numbers edit

102: Rode Hoed (Vrijburg), from 1630
220: Church of Our Lady, from 1854
224: Saxenburg, renewed after 1755.[2][3]
242–252: Groote Keijser, built between 1620 and 1730
324: Felix Meritis, from 1787
334-346: De Claes Reinierszhofje, from 1618
384: The Dylan Hotel, formerly Roman Catholic Poor's Office and before that the first Theatre of Van Campen (1637-1664)
566: Keizersgrachtkerk, from 1888
672-674: The Van Raey Houses, now Museum Van Loon, from 1671
676: The Nieuwe Waalse Kerk, Keizersgracht 676, from 1856

Odd numbers edit

105: d'Bruynvis, from 1763
123: Huis met de Hoofden, from 1622
141: South Africa House
143: Keizersgracht 143, historic canal house
177: Coymanshuis, by architect Jacob van Campen, from 1625
209: De Hoop, from 1734 , restored in 2001
225: The Koopermoole, from 1746
401: Huis Marseille, from 1665, now a museum for photography
609: Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam
633: Museum Geelvinck-Hinlopen
745: ING Bank

A number of buildings were built by the Amsterdam architects Philips Vingboons (1607-1678) and Adriaan Dortsman (1635-1682).

The Homomonument on the Westermarkt is in part, in the form of a jetty, above the Keizersgracht.

Numbering and orientation edit

The Keizersgracht starts in the north at the Brouwersgracht, bends parallel between Herengracht and the Prinsengracht to the southeast and flows into the Amstel. The odd-numbered side of the canal is on the side of the heart of the city (Dam Square).

At Keizersgracht 200 and 183 is the intersection with Westermarkt and Raadhuisstraat
At Keizersgracht 508 and 455 is the intersection with Leidsestraat
At Keizersgracht 648 and 589 is the intersection with Vijzelstraat
At Keizersgracht 764 and 709 is the intersection with Utrechtsestraat
At Keizersgracht 826 and 765, the canal flows into the Amstel

Bridges edit

The Keizersgracht is spanned by 14 bridges, all fixed.

Number Name Street Canal
at 4m width
Managed by
55 Pastoorsbrug Brouwersgracht 7,00 2,22 1,80 Centrum
54 Noordsche Compagniebrug Herenstraat 6,81 1,80 Centrum
51 Leliegracht 6,70 2,27 1,80 Centrum
106 Niek Engelschmanbrug Westermarkt 2x7,00 1,70 DiVV
49 Kees Fensbrug Hartenstraat 6,70 2,27 1,80 Centrum
48 (Felix Meritisbrug) Wolvenstraat 6,70 2,27 1,80 Centrum
47 Huidenstraat 6,70 2,27 1,80 Centrum
46 (Quellijnbrug) Leidsegracht 6,70 2,27 1,80 Centrum
43 Leidsestraat 6,70 1,77 DiVV
42 (Wielrijdersbrug) Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 6,70 2,27 1,80 Centrum
41 Johanna Borskibrug Vijzelstraat 6,88 1,80 DiVV
38 (Oetgenssluis) Reguliersgracht 6,80 2,38 1,84 Centrum
37] (Peylsluis) Utrechtsestraat 6,83 1,24 DiVV
36 L.J.Sinckbrug Amstel 5,14 2,89 2,42 Centrum

The bridge names in parentheses are the unofficial names of bridges, names which have lapsed since April 2016.

With the passage heights in the above table, take into account the fact that the Keizersgracht, like all other canals in the city center, is 0.40 metres (1 ft 4 in) below the Amsterdam Ordnance Datum.

Skating edit

If ice forms in winter, there is a possibility of skating on the Amsterdam canals. Waternet will stop circulation of water in the canals by closing the locks, and boats will be prohibited from sailing on a number of canals, including the Keizersgracht. The Keizersgracht is then designated as the main canal for skating.[4] In 2008 a tour boat from shipping company Meyers broke to pieces against the rules in the very first layer of ice; questions about this were asked to the city center district board.[5]

The Keizersrace is a sprint race that is held between the Leidsestraat and the Spiegelgracht. The winner of the race may call himself/herself the Keizer(in) of Amsterdam. The race was held in 1991, 1996, 1997 and 2012.[6]

Tunnel edit

The so-called Poentunnel was opened below the Keizersgracht in 1974, an underground walking route between the De Bazel and Vijzelbank bank buildings in Vijzelstraat. Today, the tunnel is still present, but out of use and bricked up on the north side.

Famous residents edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ J.A. Wiersma, De naam van onze straat, Amsterdam 1987 ISBN 9062740243 blz. 118
  2. ^ Hotel Pulitzer, Amsterdam
  3. ^ Huizen in Nederland. (1995) Architectuurhistorische verkenningen aan de hand van het bezit van de Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser, p. 83.
  4. ^ Amsterdamse Keizersgracht in de schaatsstand,, 31 december 2008
  5. ^ Rondvaartboot vaart ijs in gracht stuk, Het Parool, 3 januari 2008
  6. ^ Keizersrace,, 11 februari 2012.
  7. ^ Walraven, Jacob (1759-1823)

External links edit