Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

What is now the Royal Palace of Amsterdam (Koninklijk Paleis in Dutch) on the Dam was originally Amsterdam’s town hall.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam History

Royal Palace of Amsterdam 1673

It had long been intended to replace the existing town hall with one more indicative of Amsterdam’s power and wealth, and many medieval houses were demolished to make way for it.

In 1647 Jacob van Campen designed the monumental building, which was begun in 1648. Daniël Stalpaert was appointed city architect and supervised the building work, taking control of the project when van Campen withdrew in 1654 because of a disagreement with his assistants.

The outbreak of war with England in 1653 imposed financial restrictions on the project, but these were lifted in 1655 when it was decided to carry out the original designs. The front of the building faces the Dam; the ground plan is 80×57.5 m; the height to the top of the dome is 52 m.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam interior

The building is a rectangular block with two internal courtyards. Three bays project at each corner, together with the seven central bays of the long façades. The corners are emphasized by transverse roofs. Above the basement are two main floors divided by a horizontal cornice.

Each of the main floors has two levels of windows, defined by a giant order of pilasters, Composite for the lower and Corinthian for the upper level, following Vincenzo Scamozzi’s book of orders Idea dell’architettura universale. The drum and cupola were built in 1664.

The building lacks a grand entrance. The seven small archways in the east front probably symbolize the Seven Provinces. The tribune, where courts were held, is situated behind the middle three. It is unglazed, with open bronze railings, so that the proceedings could be followed from outside. The statues in this room allude to crime, punishment, and justice.

Royal Palace Amsterdam interior

The great hall, also known as the Burgerzaal (Citizens’ Hall), is situated in the middle of the building, flanked by the two courtyards. It is the apotheosis of the building, measuring 34×16.75×28 m. Its height is divided by two rows of pilasters.

Set into the floor are a marble and copper map of the world and a chart of the heavens so that a walk from one end of the hall to the other travels through the universe. The most important rooms were situated in the galleries around the courtyards. Fine sculptures allude to the function of each room.

Although the actual building was completed in 1665, it was several years before all the sculptures and paintings were finished and installed. The sculptures were executed by the Antwerp sculptor Artus Quellinus, whose assistants included Artus Quellinus, Rombout Verhulst, Gabriel Grupello, city mason Willem de Keyser, and Simon Bosboom. Commissions for paintings were given to Govaert Flinck, Jan Lievens, Juriaen Ovens, Ferdinand Bol, Jacob Jordaens, and Thomas de Keyser, among others.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam painting

In 1808 the city council was more or less forced to give the Stadhuis to Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and Barthold W. H. Ziesenis, the city architect, was presented with the difficult task of converting it into a royal palace. He used partitions to divide the galleries and the Burgerzaal into rooms and concealed much of the symbolism by means of curtains and paneling.

The Neo-classical style of the late 18th century and the early 19th had much in common with that of the 17th century, which is probably why the building had such appeal at the time of its remodeling. The alteration was largely sympathetic, although the fine bronze cross-framed windows were replaced by large modern sash windows.

Rooms were refurbished in a modern style since all the furniture had been transferred to the Prinsenhof. This replacement furniture remains in the palace and forms Holland’s largest collection of Empire furniture.

In 1813 the French left Holland, and William I returned. He gave the building back to the city of Amsterdam, but since the city council did not have the means to redecorate or maintain the enormous building, it was offered again to the King as his official residence in Amsterdam, an arrangement that still continues.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam Location

Address: Dam, 1001 AM Amsterdam, Nederland. Get help with directions:

Royal Palace of Amsterdam Map

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