Amsterdam’s architecture is unique and varied. You’ll find tall houses, historic houses, slanted houses, and even sinking houses. But Amsterdam’s homes are perhaps best known for being narrow — and the narrowest house of all? It’s just over two metres wide.
You may have noticed that Amsterdam is a bit cramped. People on the sidewalks and in bike lanes are crammed shoulder to shoulder, and the houses are no different. You’ll find narrow houses packed in tightly all over the city, especially in the canal belt and the old city centre.
When the city saw a growth spurt after the economic boom of the seventeenth century, narrow houses meant more people could squeeze into the city’s limited space. But a few of these houses are so narrow you’ll have to see them to believe it.
Here’s everything you need to know to track down the narrowest houses in Amsterdam — plus a few details to impress your friends.
The narrowest house in Amsterdam: Oude Hougestrat 22
Of the three skinniest houses in Amsterdam, the one holding the record measures in at just 2.2 metres wide (Americans, that’s about the length of six wine bottles).
If you’ve been to Amsterdam’s Red Light District, you’ve likely passed by the narrowest house in Amsterdam without even noticing. It stands bashfully between the gateway to the Walloon Church and the historic East Indies House. With its red-brick facade and traditional spout gable, it looks like any other Amsterdam canal house — only miniature.
The municipality of Amsterdam purchased the small plot of land for this particularly narrow house in 1738. It was first leased to a clockmaker in 1742, as a single-story building (with ridiculously high ceilings.) Over the years, the building went from a workshop to a three-story home. Eventually, the skinny building became a storefront for small businesses, like a jewellery store and flower shop.
The dainty landmark is now aptly home to Amsterdam’s tiniest tea shop, which opened in 2014. At just five metres long, the total area is of the tea room is a gezellig nine square metres.
|📍 Where to find it: Oude Hoogstraat 22, Amsterdam
🧭 How to get there: Head to the heart of the Red Light District, near the Zuiderkerk.
Amsterdam’s other narrow houses
These next two Amsterdam houses may not be the skinniest of the skinny, but they’d still be approved for a high fashion runway in the ’90s.
The loophole, Singel 7
The house located at Singel 7 is often thought to be Amsterdam’s narrowest house. However, it’s only the facade that’s so slim, measuring just over one metre wide. The other side of the house is of average width, so altogether the inside of the house isn’t that narrow at all.
Oddly, Amsterdammers used to pay taxes on the width of their houses on the canal side, which happens to be the front side of the vast majority of houses. So Single 7’s narrow, canal-facing rear facade is seen as a creative approach to tax evasion. Gotta love that Dutch ingenuity.
|📍 Where to find it: Singel 7, Amsterdam
🧭 How to get there: Head southwest from Central Station, about 600 metres
The kleine Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 26
Our final notably-narrow house stands out for its mirroring of the stately mansion across the canal. The Trippenhuis was the largest residential house in Amsterdam in the 17th century, owned by the well-known arms-dealing Trip brothers.
Legend has it, the brothers’ coachman had mentioned he’d be delighted with a house even just the width of the mansion’s door. In good humour, the brothers commissioned the 2.4-metre house across the canal to emulate the neoclassical facade — a slender gift for their dear coachman.
|📍 Where to find it: Kloveniersburgwal 26, Amsterdam
🧭 How to get there: Just around the corner from Oude Hoogstraat 22
Tour all of Amsterdam’s narrowest houses
You can easily see all three of Amsterdam’s narrowest houses in just an hour or two. It makes for a great self-guided walking/cycling tour around some of the loveliest parts of the old city. Just follow these directions, or wander around more creatively on your own route. There’s always plenty to keep you entertained along the way.
Have you seen the narrowest houses in Amsterdam? Let us know what you think of them in the comments below!
Feature Image: Brin Andrews/Supplied
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2020 and was updated in December 2020 for your reading pleasure.