Sofitel The Grand

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197
Tram 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 16, 17, 24, 25 (halte Dam)
Bron: Marlies Buurman & Flora van Gaalen, Room Service, Amsterdam 2007, p.28-29.

The former city hall

The complex that houses hotel Sofitel The Grand has a long history, which the building bears witness to in every respect. Its origins date back to around the year 1400, when the Convent of St. Catherine and St. Cecilia stood on this site.

After 1578 – the year of the Alteration – all religious houses were placed under the city government and part of the Cecilia convent was converted into the Prinsenhof, a guesthouse for distinguished personages. Famous guests included William of Orange, Maria de Medici, the Queen of England, the daughter of Maria de Medici, and Prince Frederik Hendrik. In 1661, the admiralty took over the complex and the impressive Baroque fa├žade was completed; a symbol of power in the Golden Age. When in 1808, the viceroy Louis Napoleon took possession of the city hall on the Dam, the city government moved to the Prinsenhof. The building functioned for 180 years as Amsterdam’s city hall, until 1988 when the Stopera was officially opened. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the building was embellished, inside and outside, with sculptures, paintings, wood carvings, stained-glass windows and carpets. The facade on Oudezijds Voorburgwal was added to the city hall in 1926 and is a splendid example of Amsterdam School architecture. The wedding room – which is also in the Amsterdam School style – is a true ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ with wall paintings and stained-glass windows by Chris Lebeau. The council chamber – which is adorned with, among other things, wooden sculptures by Mendes da Costa, John Raedecker and Hildo Krop, and lamps by Frans Lensvelt – is where in 1966 Queen Beatrix was married. (ARCAM/BU/FG)