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The Keizersgracht is one of Amsterdam’s canals in between the Herengracht and Prinsengracht surrounding the city. The digging of the tunnel started in 1612 alongside the other two main canals and later it was named the Emperor’s Canal after Emperor Maximilian of Austria. The area near this canal was once home to the wealthy merchants of the city who used these routes for trade and commerce. In the months of winter, the canal turns into a skating rink when the water freezes and plays host to the ‘Keizersrace’, Emperor’s race.
The Keizersgracht offers a great view to the visitors with canal houses and bridges, one of which is the ‘House with the Heads’ (Huis met de Hoofden). If you want to get a look of this Baroque-style structure with six heads of Roman Gods and Goddesses sticking out on the gable, look for No. 123 on Keizersgracht.
Another place to look out for is the Coymans house (Coymanshuis), built in 1625, which once belonged to Balthazar and Johannes Coymans and their family but later became the Head Office for Amnesty International.
On the Keizersgracht section of the city is the remarkable ‘Homomonument’ (Gay monument) which honours the homosexual populace who died in the Nazi Concentration camps during the Holocaust. Tourists from all over the world visit this monument and leave flowers in memory of the victims.
The Felix Meritis (Happy through Merit) is a European centre for art, culture and science located on Keizersgracht. It was a society established in the 1770s, and since 1988, the Felix Meritis Foundation has functioned here.
House Marseille and the Foam Photography Museum are two art spaces in the city dedicated photography which are worth checking out. House Marseille (No. 401) is a historic building built in 1655 which is devoted exclusively to photography. Foam Photography Museum (No. 609) is housed in the renovated 19th century Fodor Museum.
A fun and fascinating event to be witnessed here during winter is the 'Keizersrace' or the Emperor's race. The canals are frozen in the months of winter and tourists and locals alike gather here to skate over the frozen water. When the ice sheet is about 15 cms or thicker, the race is held. The winner of the Keizersrace is crowned as the 'Keizer (in) of Amsterdam' until the next time the event is held.
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