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Amsterdam's Royal Palace
Written by Amitabh Das on May 19, 2020 Share on

Amsterdam’s Royal Palace: A Journey Through Time

When it comes to Amsterdam, one of the most visited cities in Europe, the first thing that comes to mind is undoubtfully the vibrant Amsterdam nightlife, liberal lifestyle, culture, and of course the beautiful canals. But wait, the city is also home to many of its magnificent architectural masterpieces, and the Royal Palace of Amsterdam definitely stands tall among them. Located in the heart of the city on the west side of Dam square the building is one of the most notable historic structures in the city.

History of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam was originally conceived as a town-hall way back in 1665 and used to be the centre space of culture and gatherings of city elites for about 140 years. The principal architect involved was Jacob van Campen who started the construction work in 1648. After the patriot revolution era which lasted for more than ten decades in the late 16th century, the political landscape of Holland was changed completely.

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam in 2016
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam (Credit: Diego Delso|Wikimedia Commons)

The then reigning House of Orange was uprooted and it gave way to Louis Napoleon, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte to be crowned the King Louis-I of Holland. King Louis-I moved the royal court from Hauge to Amsterdam and the town hall was converted to his Royal Palace in 1806.

He made major changes in the grand interior of the structure, but couldn’t enjoy it for too long as by 1810 he was renounced from the throne as the French took over and the Palace became the residence of French governor Charles François Lebrun. The power again shifted to House of Orange in 1813 and the palace was restored for a short time to city hall by Prince William VI before being officially converted to Royal Palace again. Since then it remained the official residence of Dutch royalty which continues to this day.

Features, Attractions, and Popular Culture

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam was constructed using yellow sandstone sourced from Bentheim in Germany and still maintains a yellowish appearance albeit with the passage of time it has faded. The interior of the building is done in different shades of marble. The architect was inspired by Antwerp town hall and there are notably similar with regards to the overall facade and design.

The sculptures used in the construction were also fabricated in Antwerp by Artus Quellijn who was one of the most renowned Flemish sculptors of his time. The interiors of the building were completed in later times by famous painters like Govert Flinck, Ferdinand Bol, Jacob Jordaens, Jan Lievens, and also Rembrandt, whose largest masterpiece The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis was hung for some time in the building after being returned to him. The top of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam has a domed cupola with a weather vane in the form of a cog ship which symbolizes the Amsterdam city.

Citizen hall interiors in Royal Palace in Amsterdam
The Citizen’s Hall (Credit: Amsterdam Municipal Department|Wikimedia Commons)

At the heart of the building is the citizen’s hall, which represents a very unique amalgamation of the elements of nature and symbolizes mother earth and the way humans and other creatures interact with her. The overall sculptures in Royal Palace of Amsterdam represent the spirit of the city and its embodiments in the form of mother and child, men and women which are awe-inspiring and will surely leave you spellbound and gazing at them for a long time. Another feature is in the marble flooring, which are two maps with a celestial hemisphere in between depicting Holland’s colonial influence and glory. At the vantage point in the Gable, the royal atlas carries firmament on his shoulders symbolizing the central position of Amsterdam in the universe during the Golden Era.

Atlas/Titan carrying heaven on his shoulders on the front facacde Royal Palace in Amsterdam
The Royal Atlas carrying firmament (Credit: Pixabay)

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is used as the venue for several official and high-level diplomatic events like state dinners and also for felicitation ceremonies like Royal awards for painting, Erasmus Prize, Prince Claus Award, etc. Though used by the current royalty of Netherland King Williem-Alexander, the Palace is open to the public and also hosts lots of exhibitions and showcases from time to time.

So make sure you include this delightful architectural wonder on your trip to Amsterdam, and get a piece of the history of this beautiful city. For planning your trip, check out the curated list of Amsterdam packages and Netherlands holiday packages and book your vacation at Pickyourtrail!

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