Canal sights in The Netherlands
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Scene of many a wedding photo, the photogenic bend in the Oudegracht is illuminated by lamplight in the evening; hundreds sit outside cafés here by day. South of this point is where the canal is at its most evocative, and the streets are quieter, stretching 1km to the southern tip of the old town.
A section of the Singel called the Stadsbuitengracht has its own turn as a lovely canal on the eastern side of the old quarter, where it follows many parks built on the site of the old fortifications. Stroll down beside this canal and back north through Nieuwegracht, a peaceful stretch of plush canal houses and towering, grand old elms.
These impressive sluices, or locks, date from 1674 and allowed the canals to be flushed with fresh water from lakes north of the city, rather than salt water from the IJ, an innovation that made the city more liveable. They were still operated by hand until recently. Four times a week in summer, and twice a week in winter, the locks are shut while fresh water flows in. The sluices on the west side of the city are left open as the stagnant water is pumped out to sea.