The canal system of Amsterdam – known as ‘Grachten’ – is the result of conscious urban planning. In the early seventeenth century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehensive plan for the city’s expansion was developed with four concentric semicircles of canals emerging at the main waterfront (seen here at the top). In the centuries since, the canals have been used for defense, water management, and transport. They remain a hallmark of the city to this day.


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