January 21, 2016

0124, 1323, 2231 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / North Holland) - Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht (UNESCO WHS)

0124 Amsterdam - Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal) (1)

Posted on 13.02.2012, 30.10.2014, 21.01.2016
90 islands, separated by some 100km of canals and linked by about 400 stone bridges. This is Amsterdam, the Venice of the North. Only a small fishing village in the 12th century, it was granted city rights in 1300, and soared soon due to the trade with the Hanseatic League. In the 16th century it still was a port of the second line, and the increase from the next century owes it, neither more nor less, to the religious tolerance. Here have found refuge Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Huguenots from France, and Protestants from Flanders and Brabant. They, the immigrants, turned Amsterdam in the 17th century in the belly button of the world.

2231 Amsterdam - Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal) (2)

In few years, Amsterdam became too small, so that it was made a plan to extend the boundaries of the city. The plan was passed in 1607, and the work began 6 years later. The city's council bought the land around, dug canals, and leased the plots back to developers. The three main canals dug in the 17th century - Herengracht (Lord's Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal) and Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal) - together with Singel (which served as a moat around the city until 1585, when it expanded), form concentric belts around the city, known as the Grachtengordel (The Canal District). 

1323 Amsterdam - Westerkerk (Western Church),
on the bank of Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal)

The city's area increased enormous, but nevertheless the council imposed strict conditions: Herengracht , Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht were set aside for the residences and businesses of the richer merchants, while the radial cross-streets were reserved for more modest artisans' homes. In the Grachtengordel even the wealthiest merchant had to comply with strict planning regulations. The council prescribed the size of each building plot, the end result being what we see now: tall, narrow residences, whose individualism is restricted to the stylistic permutations amongst the gables. Even the colour of the front doors was regulated, with choice restricted to a shade that has become known as "Amsterdam Green".

Located on the bank of the Prinsengracht, Westerkerk (Western Church) is the largest church in the Netherlands built specifically for Protestant services. Erected between 1620 and 1631 by Hendrick de Keyser, it has the highest church tower in Amsterdam (85m). Here was buried Rembrandt, who at the end of his life lived nearby, at Rozengracht 184. When he died in 1669, the painter was so poor, that he was buried in an unmarked church grave, so the exact place of its grave remains unknown. His lover Hendrickje Stoffels is also buried here, as is his son Titus van Rijn.

The Westerkerk is located also close to the Achterhuis (now Anne Frank House) where the girl, her family and others hid from Nazi persecution for two years during WWII. The Westerkerk is mentioned frequently in her diary - its clock tower could be seen from the attic of the Achterhuis and Anne Frank described the chiming of the clock as a source of comfort. A memorial statue of Frank is located outside the church. On March 10, 1966, Princess Beatrix married Prince Claus von Amsberg also in the Westerkerk.

About the stamps
On the postcard 0124
The stamp is part of the series Europe gives green light, I wrote here.

On the postcard 1323
The stamp is one of the two personal business stamps (Ivory Cross), issued on July 11, 2014. 

On the postcard 2231
The stamp is part of the series Dutch Icons, about which I wrote here

Canals of Amsterdam - Wikipedia
Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht - UNESCO official website
Westerkerk - Wikipedia
Westerkerk in Amsterdam - amsterdam.info

Sender 0124: Dragoş Cioroboiu
Sent from Amsterdam (North Holland / Netherlands), on 28.11.2011
Sender 1323: Auke van der Meer / kampen27 (postcrossing) NL-1071020
Sent from Almere (North Holland / Netherlands), on 28.02.2012 
Sender 2231: Muiderberg meeting (10.01.2016) - Wilma van Vegten, Hilarie Huley, Christel van der Ree, Annemieke Reinderink
Sent from Muiderberg (North Holland / Netherlands), on 10.01.2016
Photo: Frans Lemmens

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