This past week, Amsterdam made a spellbinding transformation. It was a metamorphosis that we only see once in a blue moon. At the end of February, most of us were looking forward to the start of the spring season, and the tiniest flowers were already popping up from the soil. Mother Nature, however, had a different plan. As the Siberian Beast from the East crept closer and closer, the Netherlands fell back into an icy-cold winter spell.

For the first time in six long years, the historic canals froze over. The ferocious cold cut right through my thick winter coat, but truthfully; it wasn’t all frozen fingers and slippery sidewalks. The ice also rekindled our national passion for ice skating, and made the city look ravishingly beautiful. For years and years to come, I will probably still remember these days as that time when Amsterdam transformed into a frozen city.

13 Photos of the Ice-Cold Winter in Amsterdam

Winter in Amsterdam with a thin layer of snow on the canals

Staalmeestersbrug

The view from the historic Staalmeestersbrug (Steel Master’s Bridge) was exceptionally stunning. The snow-frosted frozen canal and Southern Church in the distance created a classically beautiful winter scene.Ice skating on the canals in Amsterdam

Icy-cold winter in Amterdam with frozen harbours

Two girls hold onto each other on a frozen canal

Prinsengracht

The most popular place to go ice skating this past week was probably the Prinsengracht, or Prince’s Canal. The sight of so many ice skaters on the historic canal is quite nostalgic for most Dutch people, since it was a treasured winter activity in previous centuries. Even kids and young adults who may have never seen the real thing will recognize the image from older paintings and postcards.

Winter in Amsterdam on the canals

Boats Prohibited

When temperatures drop below zero for an extended period of time, the municipality will consider “closing” some of the canals for boats. This way, the ice remains undisturbed and has enough time to thicken. The larger canals in Amsterdam remained open, so tourists could still go on tours on the water.

Ice skating on Prinsengracht

A woman in a yellow coat and headband skates on the Prinsengracht canal

Ice skating on the canals in Amsterdam

Skating on Thin Ice

Admittedly, the ice never grew thick enough to fully ensure the safety of those hundreds of ice skaters in Amsterdam. Nevertheless, many of us simply couldn’t resist the rare sight of frozen canals. Thankfully, most of the locals (and tourists) were able to enjoy the frozen canals without wetting their feet. The last couple of days, there were also several cases where people fell through the ice, but all were able to climb out to safety on time.

Ship in frozen water in Amsterdam

Feeding birds during Amsterdam winter time

Seagulls fly and stand on top of the ice sheets on the canals

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