A canal cruise is a must when visiting Amsterdam. The city’s 17th-century grachtengordel, or canal ring, built more than 400 years ago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the things Amsterdam is most famous for. I’ve done many canal cruises over the years, but none with such a unique perspective or that stood out more than the Black Heritage Amsterdam Tour. It’s no wonder that Conde Nast named it one of the top 5 tours of Amsterdam.
The Black Heritage Amsterdam Tour is the first tour of its kind in the Netherlands and takes visitors along Amsterdam’s ‘canal belt’, revealing the hidden histories of the city and the contributions of the African Diaspora to Dutch society from the 16th century to the present seen from historical buildings, canal house museums, city landmarks, and fine art.
ORIGINS OF BLACK HERITAGE AMSTERDAM
While participating in this program Jennifer discovered the role Africans have played in Amsterdam’s history, as well as the rarely acknowledged role the Dutch played in the slave trade and developed the tour as a way to tell the story.
BLACK HERITAGE AMSTERDAM TOUR
The apothecary would travel to markets, taking his assistant, often dressed as a Moor – symbolizing the exotic origin of the medicines – who would pretend to be ill. After taking a pill, the assistant would feel better and perform a dance. In later times when apothecaries stopped traveling and opened shops, the Vergulde Gaper served as a sort of billboard for the pharmacy.
For the canal cruise portion of the tour, guests board a classic canal boat which takes us past the stately mansions that line Amsterdam’s storied canals, many of which were used as storage facilities to house the goods the seafaring Dutch brought back from the Far East. We passed a house with a commemorative plaque out front noting that it was a former sugar factory. We also passed a number of houses owned by families and businesses whose wealth, according to public records, was a result of their participation in the slave trade.
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