Amsterdam Canal District Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

There are travelers who plan entire itineraries around what places are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. So for anyone who’s a fan of Amsterdam, there was a particularly exciting announcement in early August.

Officials from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list announced on August 3rd that the Amsterdam canal district is one of the 2010 additions to the list of World Heritage Sites. It’s the first time any Amsterdam property – either a specific building or an area – has been added to the list, although there are other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Netherlands. The Amsterdam canal district is the 9th World Heritage Site in the Netherlands, and it was added primarily because of its historical importance in terms of urban planning.

Here’s a map showing the new UNESCO site:

The UNESCO description of the site reads, in part:

The historic urban ensemble of the canal district of Amsterdam was a project for a new ‘port city’ built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. It comprises a network of canals to the west and south of the historic old town and the medieval port that encircled the old town and was accompanied by the repositioning inland of the city’s fortified boundaries, the Singelgracht.

This urban extension was the largest and most homogeneous of its time. It was a model of large-scale town planning, and served as a reference throughout the world until the 19th century.

This canal district area in Amsterdam is one that visitors will know well, as it comprises much of the historic center where tourists spend the majority of their time. In fact, the famous Anne Frank House is on the banks of one of the canals included in the new UNESCO site.

To coincide with the announcement, there’s a special exhibit running at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam about the canal district – they have paintings, prints, and drawings showing the development of the city in the 17th century, and it’s running through September 6, 2010.

>> More information on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Netherlands, and the new site in Amsterdam: Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

>> Explore the city’s historic canals by boat – take a canal tour in Amsterdam!