History and origin of De 9 Straatjes
De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets) is a collective name given to the nine cosy and picturesque shopping streets in the Unesco Heritage listed Amsterdam Canal Belt. These nine little streets run between Raadhuisstraat and Leidsestraat, just a few minutes walk from the Royal Palace at the Dam Square. This little district with its small monumental shops forms a charming neighborhood with a great, bustling atmosphere.
Amsterdam and the rest of the world
“The whole world is built around Amsterdam” the famous Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel wrote in the seventeenth century. This century - being the Dutch Golden Age - was to Amsterdam an unprecedented period of prosperity. People from all over Europe came to the city for trading business or to build up a new decent living. Soon, the old town center became too small, so an extension was inevitable and this is when they designed the Canal Belt, for the necessary expansion of the city.
Around the old Medieval town center, three new main canals were dug out: Herengracht (Gentlemen’s Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal) and Prinsengracht (Princes’ Canal). The main canals where connected by cross canals and cross streets, which gave De 9 Straatjes its current structure, in the first half of the 17th century. From the very beginning these little cross streets were dominated by trade and culture. And still, after 400 years, it is a lively neighborhood with artisanal businesses, special restaurants and bars, galleries and a unique variety of small, specialized and authentic shops.
From the artisanal of leatherworking to the most fascinating shopping area of Amsterdam
The names of the streets remind us of the old artisans dealing with all kinds of skins for the leather-industry. From the Huidenstraat (Skins Street), Berenstraat (Bears Street), Wolvenstraat (Wolves Street), Hartenstraat (Hearts Street) tot de Runstraat (-) en Reestraat (Deer Street), and the three alleys on the side of the canal the Singel: de Wijde Heisteeg, Gasthuismolensteeg and the Oude Spiegelstraat. The area offers a magnificent overview of the architectural style within the Amsterdam Canal Belt.
At the beginning of the nineties, entrepreneur Djoeke Wessing was the driving force behind the origin of De 9 Straatjes as shopping area. In her store Art Deco in the Huidenstraat, she noticed that there were some charming connecting streets between the main canals, but that there wasn’t a lot of connection between the shop owners of these streets. She decided that this could improve and made an amazing effort to get all the shop owners together. Her effort resulted in a shop owners association, that soon got the name De 9 Straatjes, and that gave this unique, most fascinating shopping area in Amsterdam its fame.
De 9 Straatjes form an ideal neighborhood to get to know Amsterdam in all its variety and richness.
You won’t just find shops, restaurants and bars in De 9 Straatjes. There is so much more to discover in this versatile area.
Along the main canals in De 9 Straatjes quarter, art was - and still is - practiced with a capital “A”. The area permits a general view of all kinds of architectural styles in buildings and houses. Among these houses are the beautiful Vingboon Houses - which now houses The Canal House Museum - and the building of Felix Meritis, European center for arts, culture and science. The Felix Meritis building dates from 1787 and was commissioned by the Felix Meritis Society. This society was guided by the enlightenment and the ideals of those days. In this building the first Amsterdam (oval) concert hall was constructed. By means of concerts, lessons and tests the public was actively involved. With a short intermission it has always cleared the way for cultural purposes. Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played concerts in the, no longer existing, municipal theater of this building on the Keizersgracht.
On the Herengracht you'll find the Biblical Museum. The collection is quite diverse with ‘the Book’ itself (the oldest dating from 1477) as centerpiece. The collection also has an important number of temple models, archeological finds from Egypt and lots more.
On Gasthuismolensteeg 7, you will find the Dutch Spectacles Museum. In this small house the museum reveals the history of spectacles over 700 years. It is a small but unique and fascinating museum.
And of course not far from the neighborhood of De 9 Straatjes, there is the Royal Palace on Dam Square, the former Town Hall, built in 1648 by famous city architect Jacob van Campen. Also not far from the neighborhood lays the Westerkerk - where Rembrandt is buried - and which was build between 1620 and 1638 by city architects Hendrik de Keyser and Jacob van Campen. Next to the Westerkerk is Anne Frank House in which the Frank family was hiding from l942 until l944. Here Anne wrote her famous diary.
As you have read here, there is a lot to see and do in De 9 Straatjes. When you visit our little streets, you will feel the vibe of the neighborhood and you will know that we do not exaggerate when we say that De 9 Straatjes is the best, most charming and most unique shopping and cultural area in Amsterdam!