De Brakke Grond
Centre for Flemish Culture
The Brakke Grond is situated on the site of a former convent. The affluent St. Margaretha convent was built here in 1342, when the site became part of the city of Amsterdam, and existed until the Alteration in 1578. In 1595, the city government sold the convent building and it was subsequently used by rhetoricians, as an anatomical theatre and as a fencing school for prominent people such as Prince Maurits and Prince Frederik Hendrik.
The convents church was used as a meat hall up until 1779. The church was then demolished and a square, todays Nesplein, was created on the site. In 1779, a hostelry, De Bracke Gront, was built on the east side of this square. The name referred to the marshland that used to exist on the site. The combination of salt water from the IJ and freshwater from the Amstel made the groundwater here brackish.
From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, tobacco and tea were traded here. In 1962, the building became home to the theatre group Studio. This was the first step towards the creation of todays Flemish Cultural Centre, which officially opened its doors in 1981 following a two-year renovation, carried out under the direction of the architect Arthur Staal. In collaboration with various Dutch organizations, contemporary Flemish art, theatre and music are showcased here. The aim is to stimulate Flemish-Dutch collaboration and to give the Dutch public an opportunity to become acquainted with characteristic and contemporary Flemish art. (ARCAM/TB)