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When one thinks of Amsterdam, one thinks of canals; avenues of water embracing a historical and colourful city. However, it has only been from August of 2010 that the collection of concentric canals bordering the Singel Canal has been included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, but for centuries, visitors from all walks of life have come to the city to lose themselves amongst the miles and miles of canals crossed by over a thousand bridges. There are so many, in fact, that it can be hard to choose between them. To help you, here are some of the canals that you simply must visit, whether on your first trip to Amsterdam or on a deeper exploration of the city.
Firstly, there's Herengracht. Also known as the Patrician's Canal, this is, without a doubt, the canal that flows past the most elegant constructions of the Old City. In particular, it lets you see the famed "Golden Circle," where in times past, Amsterdam's most powerful merchants plied their trade. In addition to magnificent, stately homes, its shores also harbour unusual museums, such as the Bible Museum, the Theatre Museum and the Cat Cabinet Museum. Less ostentatious but more intimate, is the tree-lined "Prince's Canal" of Prinsengracht. This canal holds attractions as varied as the Floating House Museum, the celebrated Home of Anne Frank, the beautiful Westerkerk Church and the Homomonument, a monument to the country's gay community. A trip down the "Emperor's Canal" of Keizersgracht will give you the opportunity to discover gems of Dutch architecture. These include the "House with the Heads," a perfect example of the "Rebirth of Amsterdam," the grandiose Felix Meritis Building (one of the largest in the city, which is currently used as a conference centre) and the Twin Houses, number 244 and 246, which are amongst the most photographed in all of Amsterdam. Finally, there's the Singel Canal. This is the innermost of all the canals and marked the old city limits, from which Amsterdam expanded, thanks to its economic boom. That also explains why it is surrounded by luxurious homes from the Dutch Golden Age. However, the most popular and colourful attractions include the Bloemenmarkt, a romantic, floating flower market. Look carefully, and you might also spot the "narrowest house in the world." How do you visit the canals? Well, there are options to suit every taste. Traditionalists should follow an organised tour, either on foot or by boat, so that they take in all the key sites. If you are more adventurous and would like to discover the city's treasures at random, then it is best to go on foot or to rent a bicycle and join the hoards of cyclists roaming through Amsterdam at all hours. Those who are more romantic at heart can take a night time boat ride or enjoy a candlelit dinner against a backdrop of beautifully lit homes. During festivals such as Queen's Day, the Sail Amsterdam nautical festival or Mardi Gras, the canals are bursting with colour and boast magnificent night time lighting. The hotels in Amsterdam are usually completely booked during these times however, so if you don't want to miss out on the magic of these celebrations, make sure to reserve a room well in advance. Daniel Collins writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.