The Leaning Houses of Amsterdam
Ever wonder why all of Amsterdam's old houses lean like drunken sailors on a Saturday night? After the great fires of 1421 and 1452, which swept through and destroyed nearly three-quarters of the city, building regulations became stricter and wooden structures were forbidden. Only two early timbered examples remain in Amsterdam, though others might be lurking behind more "modern" facades: the Houten Huis (Wooden House) at the Begijnhof built in the second half of the 15th century, and No. 1 Zeedijk, completed in 1550. Since brick is a substantially heavier material than wood (and the city is still sinking into the mud at a slow and steady pace), all structures were built on wooden pilings slammed deep into the sand. Without enough depth (and Jordaan construction was particularly suspect), or with fluctuating water-table levels, the wooden pilings begin to crumble and the house tilts. Today, rotten wooden pilings can be replaced with cement ones, without tearing down the building.
FODOR'S GO LIST
These are the top 25 trips we're looking to book right now -- and we hope you'll join us!More
View deals in Amsterdam for vacation packages, hotels, airfare, and more from our partners!More