Amsterdam Photo Series: Prinsengracht and Noordermarkt

Prinsengracht is the outer canal, and therefore the longest, of the four major canals which together comprise Amsterdam’s canal belt. Its northwesterly section passes by Westerkerk, Amsterdam’s famous Dutch Protestant church, designed by the sculptor and architect Hendrick de Keyser and completed in 1631; and by the Anne Frank House, on the canal front round the corner. Just beyond these stands the narrowest house on Prinsengracht, at number 245. The canal then continues up towards Noorderkerk, situated on the opposite bank, which was also designed by De Keyser and was completed – with the aid of his son, Pieter – just a couple of years after Westerkerk.

The Noordermarkt square – to the north of the Jordaan, at the conjunction of Prinsengracht and Westerstraat – lies just in front of Noorderkerk. Each Saturday, Noordermarkt hosts an organic food market. The market has a wide ranging selection, but it is still fairly concise and offers what is – based on my experience of living in Amsterdam – the most consistent collection of high-quality produce of all the markets in the city.

There are several stalls with extensive ranges of cheese; one especially impressive counter overflowing with abundant varieties of mushrooms; a stall specialising in honey; nuts, seeds and oats; vegetables; breads, cakes, and sweet and savoury pastries; a fish stall; and two with different focuses on organic meat. Stallholders are informative and will gladly let you try, for instance, the cheeses; though they may be less inclined should you ask them to cook and slice for the sake of a sample a fillet steak. My favourite thing to eat on visits to the market was always a cannoli filled with ricotta and orange: possibly the best cannoli I have ever eaten.

The market is usually open until around 3 or 4 pm. Extending beyond the confines of the food market, there are stalls selling art, secondhand and antique books, DVDs, jewellery, vintage clothing, and so on. On Mondays, a market with this more general outlook overtakes the square.

The first picture in this photo series has nothing to do with any of the above: it shows a vague reflection in the kitchen window of the apartment I had in Amsterdam, which I’m including because I like the shot. The other pictures in the series all show Prinsengracht, its canal houses and houseboats; and the Noordermarkt, including one cannoli.

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Some of the information about Noordermarkt in this piece draws upon a blog post I wrote in 2013. During 2013, while living in Amsterdam, I maintained an almost-daily blog at amsterdamarm.com. I am heading to Amsterdam for another visit in a little over a month, and in the meantime intend to post here another two or three pieces pulling from the blog – including a guide to the city’s cinemas and museums.

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