Canals come in all sorts and sizes, from waterways that connect oceans to small waterways within cities. These cities are often so deeply identified with Venice that people are tempted to compare it with this famous city. In fact, cities all over the world which are known for their canals and waterways have a tendency to be called “The Venice of” their part of the world. But these cities have a charm and history of their own and are definitely worth a visit. An overview of the most famous canals in the world.
Called the “Venice of the North”, Stockholm in Sweden is situated on 14 islands. Because it is built on so many islands there are canals and boats everywhere. A great way to explore the canals is to rent a canoe or kayak and spent an hour paddling between the city’s islands.
Another “The Venice of the East,” Alappuzha (also known as Alleppey) is an ancient and beautiful place in India full of canals. Alappuzha is connected to the famous Kerala backwaters and visitors can rent a houseboat to explore the backwaters for one or several days. The famous Snake Boat Race, where teams of rowers compete for the Nehru Trophy can also be attended.
See also India Guide
“Klong” is Thai for canal. Historically, people used klongs throughout Thailand for transportation and commerce, earning Bangkok the nickname, “The Venice of the East.” Today, most klongs have been filled in for use as streets. But you can still visit a tourist version of a traditional floating market on the Klong Damnoen Saduak in the Ratchaburi province or take a boat through central Bangkok on the Khlong Saen Saeb to avoid city traffic.
See also Thailand Guide
Nan Madol, the “Venice of the Pacific,” is a collection of small man-made islands situated off the eastern shore of the island of Pohnpei, in Micronesia. The construction of the islands probably started by the 8th century but the distinctive megalithic architecture of Nan Madol was probably built between the 12th and 13th century. It served as the ceremonial and political seat of the Saudeleur dynasty for 400 years until the city fell into decline.
See also Micronesia Guide
Often called “The Venice of China,” Suzhou is located in Eastern China on the lower Yangtze River. Founded in the 5th century BC, Suzhou is renowned for its charming waterways, it’s intricate gardens and historic stone bridges. It’s also famous for its silk trade and for its proximity to the Grand Canal, one of the largest waterway trade routes in the world.
See also China Guide
The man-made 77 km (48 mile) Panama Canal changed the course of shipping and travel by connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across a narrow strip of land in Panama. Completed in 1914, the canal enables ships to pass through a series of locks to get from one side to the other and eliminates the need for ships to take the much longer and dangerous route around the tip of South America. Today more than 14,000 ships pass the Panama Canal every year.
This fishing-village-turned-tourist-hotspot is situated on the coast of the South China Sea in Vietnam. Hoi An has been an international port from the 16th century although the serious shipping business has long since moved to the city of Da Nang. The heart of the city is still the Old Town, full of winding lanes and Chinese-styled shophouses. It is sometimes called the “Venice of Vietnam” because of the narrow canals that cut through part of the town.
Bruges is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and Belgium’s most popular destination. Because of its canals Bruges is often called ‘The Venice of the North’. In the Middle Ages the ‘Reie’ river had been turned into a network of canals that enabled the traders to bring their products to the large Water Halls at the Market. Nowadays a boat ride on these famous canals provide a great way to see some of Bruges most beautiful sites.
Another “The Venice of the North,” Amsterdam began building its famous canals in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht form concentric belts around the city, known as the grachtengordel. Today there are over 100 km (60 miles) of canals and 1,500 bridges. Alongside the main canals are 1550 monumental buildings.
Referred to as “The City of Water,” Venice is the crown jewel of water cities. Romantic gondolas, and Italian architecture along the Grand Canal helped earn this status. Stitched together with over 150 canals that have become central to its character, Venice has decayed since its heyday and has more tourists than residents, but the romantic charm remains. Hop on a vaporetto if a gondola is too slow – but don’t try to hail a cab unless it’s a water taxi – because there still aren’t any cars in Venice.