Royal Palace of Amsterdam in Amsterdam
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam ( or ) is one of three palaces in the Netherlands which is at the disposal of Queen Beatrix by Act of Parliament. The palace was built as city hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century. The building became the royal palace of king Louis Napoleon and later of the Dutch Royal House. It is situated in the west side of Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam, opposite the War Memorial and next to the Nieuwe Kerk.
The palace was build as a town hall and was as such opened on 20 July 1655 by Cornelis de Graeff, the political and social leader of Amsterdam. It is now called the royal palace. It was built by Jacob van Campen. He took control of the construction project in 1648, as the Town Hall for the City of Amsterdam.<ref name="Dunford2010"/> It was built on 13,659<ref name="Dunford2010"/> wooden piles and cost 8,5 million gulden. A yellowish sandstone from Bentheim in Germany was used for the entire building. The stone has darkened considerably in the course of time. Marble was the chosen material for the interior.
Jacob van Campen was inspired by Roman administrative palaces. He drew inspiration from the public buildings of Rome. He wanted to build a new capitol for the Amsterdam burgomasters who thought of themselves as the consuls of the new Rome of the North. The technical implementation was looked after by the town construction master Daniël Stalpaert. The sculptures were executed by Artus Quellijn.
The central hall is 120 feet long, 60 feet wide and 90 feet high. On the marble floor there are two maps of the world with a celestial hemisphere. The Western and Eastern hemispheres are shown on the maps. On the hemispheres the colonial influential area of Amsterdam is detailed. The terrestrial hemispheres were made in the mid-18th century. They replaced an earlier pair made in the late 1650s. The originals showed the regions explored by VOC's ships in the first half of the 17th century.
On top of the palace is a large domed cupola, topped by a weather vane in the form of a Cog ship. This ship is a symbol of Amsterdam. Just underneath the dome there are a few windows. From here one could see the ships arrive and leave the harbour.
The interiors, focusing on the power and prestige of Amsterdam, were completed later.
Paintings inside include works by Govert Flinck (who died before finishing a cycle of twelve huge canvases), Jacob Jordaens, Jan Lievens and Ferdinand Bol. Rembrandt's largest work, The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis was commissioned for the building, but after hanging for some months was returned to him; the remaining fragment is now in Stockholm.
In its time the building was one of many candidates for the title of the Eighth Wonder of the World. Also, for a long time it was the largest administrative building in Europe.
After the patriot revolution which swept the House of Orange from power a decade earlier, the new Batavian Republic was forced to accept Louis Napoleon, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, as King Louis I of Holland in 1806. After holding his court at The Hague and Utrecht, Louis Napoleon moved to Amsterdam, and converted the Town Hall into a royal palace for himself<ref name="Dunford2010"/>.
The King of Holland did not have long to appreciate his new palace. He abdicated on 2 July 1810<ref name="Dunford2010"/>, his son Napoleon Louis Bonaparte succeeded him for 10 days as King Louis II, then the Netherlands was annexed by France. The palace then became home to the French governor, Charles François Lebrun.
Prince William VI (son of Prince William V of Orange), returned to the Netherlands in 1813, after Napoleon fell from power, and restored the palace to its original owners. After his investiture as King William I of the Netherlands, however, Amsterdam was made the official capital of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (the seats of government being Brussels and The Hague). The new King realised the importance of having a palace in the capital, and the Town Hall again became a royal palace.
It was made property of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1936.<ref name="royalhouse"/> In 1949, the palace was the scene of the official ceremony for the transfer of sovereignty over Indonesia by the Netherlands, represented by Queen Juliana.
The palace is used by Queen Beatrix for entertaining and official functions during state visits and other official receptions, such as the Queen's New Year receptions. The award ceremonies of the Erasmus Prize, of the Silver Carnation, of the Royal Awards for Painting, and of the Prince Claus Award are also held in the palace.<ref name="royalhouse"/>
The balcony of the Royal Palace was used during the investiture of Queen Beatrix in 1980, where her mother Juliana announced the new Queen to the people. Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima kissed on the balcony on their wedding day on 2 February 2002.
The palace was renovated from 2005 until June 2009, during which, among other things, asbestos was removed. Since 14 June 2009, the Palace is open again to visitors.
- Official website
- The Royal Palace, Amsterdam at the website of the Dutch Royal House
- Paleis op de Dam at the website of the Monuments & Archeology Agency of the City of Amsterdam