Help, my house's leaning!

Sometimes, mostly in the city very center, either in Amsterdam or in Utrecht for example, you'll surprise yourself thinking: "Well, this house is leaning, isn't it? And that one too!"

Your head's spinning, you start to question everything you know, your inner ear tells you to lean to match house's facades.

Leaning house in Amsterdam

You're not crazy and fortunately, there is an explanation! No, Amsterdam's ground is not sagging as the famous Venice or the leaning tower of Pisa. Neither it is the product of an hysteric architect.

The explanation is rather simple and logical actually. Houses are mostly narrow and have several (up to 8!) floors because of the land price back in time. People would buy a small surface of land and build a house with a lot of floors because building floors wouldn't cost more in taxes. With such narrow houses and so many floors, there are many steep staircases in the house. Do you see yourself moving a sofa between floors using the stairs? I don't, and neither do Dutch people.

That's why houses leans on the street and why on top of each leaning house there is a pulley to move furnitures in the house from the street (like your old sofa).