Neat Gables and Handsome Warehouses

Warehouses and gables are all along Brouwersgracht. The rows of red shuttered windows along this canal in Amsterdam look like multi-occupancy cuckoo clocks. No wonder that Brouwersgracht, Brewers’ Canal, features in almost every Amsterdam brochure or guidebook. This canal is famous for its houseboats, warehouses gables and mansions. Brouwersgracht is not right in the centre of Amsterdam but deserves a visit because it is picturesque and very ‘Dutch’.

Warehouses and Gables and a City Walk 

Warehouse and Gables City Walk starts and Finishes at Central Station. Directions: Cross Stationsplein, turn right after the bridge, you are now in Prins Hendrikkade. Keep the canal on your right hand. Turn left at Singel. take the first canal on your right. This is Brouwersgracht. Walk up and down along the canal. Retrace your steps along Prins Hendrikkade and you are back at Central Station.

16th-Century Brouwersgracht

In the 16th century, Brouwersgracht seethed with traders and reeked of fish and beer. It lay on the edge of Amsterdam’s harbour and was the major artery to link the city with the open sea. Ships returning from the Dutch East Indies unloaded their cargoes of spices, sugar, coffee and tea which were stored in the warehouses and storage depots along the canal.

                Brouwersgracht: former warehouses look like multi-occupancy cuckoo clocks

Water and Beer

In those days shipments of fresh water also passed through Brouwersgracht. Drinking water was fetched by barges from the relatively clean Vecht River near Utrecht because the Amsterdam canals were too polluted. Breweries sprang up along Brouwersgracht picking up incoming shipments of water, supplying homes and ale houses with beer. Everyone, from toddlers to grandmas, drank beer because this drink was far healthier than water and a lot cheaper than tea and coffee.


Warehouses and Gables along 21-Century Brouwersgracht

These days the breweries have gone. Warehouses gables still line Brouwersgracht but they have been converted into chic apartments. It is a quiet residential canal, no neon signs, no noisy cafes. The tourist crowd tramping up and down the major canals seems to pass by Brouwersgracht. The best time for a stroll is in winter or spring, when the trees bordering the canal have been stripped of their leaves, allowing uninterrupted views of neat gables and handsome warehouses.


House Prices Brouwersgracht

The converted apartments on Brouwersgracht are very popular. If you want to rent one, the cost is about €2,350 per month for 135 square metres, three rooms, open plan kitchen, south-facing balcony and great views.

                                   Brouwersgracht: warehouses converted into apartments

Brouwersgracht Warehouse and Gables

Look high up at red-shuttered warehouse, especially Nos 188 – 194 are interesting. Outside pulleys are a common feature of Amsterdam houses and warehouses. Today there are still used to move furniture in and out of the city’s apartments because Dutch staircases are steep and narrow.


Brouwersgracht Houseboats

Amble past flower-filled houseboats moored between humpback bridges. Amsterdam has about 2,500 houseboats. Many of them are converted barges. The City Council stimulates boat owners to keep these historical barges instead of replacing them by newly-built houseboats.



Brouwersgracht connects Singel, Herengracht, Keizergracht and Prinsengracht and marks the northern border of the canal belt. It runs parallel to Haarlemmerstraat.

photo credit Marianne Crone

Neat Gabels