Dam Palace

Dam 1
Jacob van Campen
Stadsbestuur van Amsterdam
Vijf minuten lopen vanaf het Centraal Station
Maaike Behm, Maarten Kloos (ed.), 25 Buildings you should have seen - Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2002. Zie voor meer informatie over dit gebouw ook de rubriek 'Typisch Amsterdams' op www.amsterdam.nl

Former town hall, now royal palace

In the middle of the Golden Age, a town hall in the Dutch Classicist style was built in Amsterdam. Construction began in 1648 and in 1655 the town hall was officially opened, although it was not completed until ten years later. It was built on a scale unprecedented in Europe and for this reason it was called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. The town hall was constructed on a legendary number of wooden piles (13,659) and was executed in a very pale sandstone.

The facade has simple forms and the decoration is restrained. The interior, in which a large amount of marble has been used, is more opulent. Much of it was not completed until the eighteenth century. The building appears to be solid, but it has two inner courtyards, in between which, in the main axis, is the stately Burgerzaal (Civic Hall). This hall represents the universe with Amsterdam at the centre. As in the pediments above the projecting middle sections of the building, the hall contains symbols of peace and virtue. Characteristic of the bourgeois culture at the time is the absence of a monumental entrance. On the Dam side is the Vierschaar, where death sentences were pronounced. The public used to watch the spectacle from the Dam, through the bronze railings. In 1808, King Louis Napoleon converted the town hall into a palace. (ARCAM/JV)