The Narrowest Houses in Amsterdam
Amsterdam houses tend to be quite narrow. But sometimes this narrowness is taken to extremes! Which is the narrowest depends on how you define narrow. Do you take into account only the width of the facade? Does it matter if the house widens away from the street. I think so.
Singel 7 is sometimes touted as the city’s narrowest house. But this is not really true as this house expands to a regular 3 window width at the other end on the alley behind. However, the doorway at Singel 7 is certainly narrow at 1.05 metres in width. This is said to be an early example of creative tax avoidance as houses were allegedly taxed on how much canal frontage they had.
Singel 166 is also very narrow, 1.8 metres on the street side but it is 16 metres deep, expanding to a spacious 5 metres at the back of the house. It has a cute little cornice gable and red and yellow roses creating an archway over the front door. The house is in private ownership so it’s not possible to see inside unfortunately. Originally there was an alley where the house is that ran between two potters’ workshops. The house has been there since 1634 and in the 1700s was knows as The long narrow way between the whitewood worker and the butcher’s”.
Kloveniersburgwal is home to another narrow house, this one is 2.44 metres wide and expands at the rear behind a neighbouring property to about 6 metres wide, so clearly not in the running for the narrowest house title.
There is an urban legend about this house that it was built as a joke for the doorman of the wealthy Trip family opposite. Allegedly one of the Trip brothers heard the doorman exclaim that he would be happy with a house as wide as the Trip family’s front door and that is what he got. The Trip brothers were both long deceased when the narrow house was built so this story is widely doubted.
This is the most ornate of the small houses, with a very fancy gable adorned with two very well muscled female sphinxes. The current use of this building is certainly the most interesting of the buildings mentioned here as it is a shop selling kinky / fetish clothing. The window display sports a glittering array of dizzyingly high heels, the favoured footwear of many of the sex workers in the red light district just around the corner.
To me, the narrowest prize has to go to Oude Hooogstraat 22. This house really is only 2.02 metres wide and 5 metres deep, with no cheating or getting broader at all. The house was built in 1738 as a single story workshop and within 50 years had 2 upper floors added. Since 2014 it has been run as a tea shop and tea room which means that you can actually get to enjoy the house. There’s a tea shop on the ground floor and 2 upper floors with one table per floor. So if you book a table, you get a private tearoom. You can pop in for just a cup of tea, or coffee and delicious home baked Dutch apple pie, or you can book the table for a couple of hours and enjoy a breakfast / lunch or high tea. Tea is served by one of the owners, Kristen or Niels who will tell you about their family connection to the house and how they changed it from a home into a tea room and show you photos of the building from bygone days. Tea at the smallest house in Amsterdam is definitely something that you should put on a list to do in Amsterdam and be sure to book at least 8 weeks in advance.
Newsflash March 2021 – I am offering virtual online tours via a platform called Virtual Trips and you can join me in a tour all about houses where we go in to the smallest house. Here’s a link to my tour where we visit Amsterdam’s Smallest House
Perhaps in 2022 when things get back to normal we can also book a table for tea and apple pie for you as a break on one of our Amsterdam Private Tours.