At the center of Nieuwmarkt we find a beautiful building with a very rich histoy: the Waag. This history of the Waag goes back till well into medieval times, when it was constructed as a gatehouse at the east side of Amsterdam. After a period of renovation, the Waag can now be appreciated again in all her glory. In this Spotlight we take a closer look at the history of the Waag.
At the end of the 15th century the current ruler of Amsterdam, Maximiliaan of Austria, decided that the defensive wall of Amsterdam had to be upgraded. At the time it was only a earthen wall with a wooden stockade, but it had to be replaced by a five meter high stone city wall. This new wall was constructed in 1482 and followed the Geldersekade and the Kloveniersburgwal at the east of Amsterdam. The city wall was reinforced with several fortifications, among which the Schreierstoren and gatehouses. At the location of the Nieuwmarkt an old gate was replaced in 1488 by the Sint Antoniespoort (poort is Dutch for gate), the building currently known as the Waag.
Stadswaag and Guildhall
At the end of the 16th century the Sint Antoniespoort lost its function as a gatehouse. Amsterdam was expanding quickly, and the whole 15th century city wall was demolished. Nowadays almost nothing remains, except for some fortifications and gatehouses. In 1614 the Kloveniersburgwal (the canal to the outside of the gatehouse) was partly filled in, creating a square around the remains of the Sint Antoniespoort. This square, currently Nieuwmarkt, was higher than the original gate entrance, causing part of the gate to disappear below. The building is actually more than a meter higher than what is visible today.
Between 1617 and 1618 a roof was constructed over the gatehouse and the building was used as Waag (weighing house). This new function supplemented the old Waag at Dam square, opposite to the Royal Palace, which by the time had become too small. The gatehouse was further extended and the central tower was added. In the upper floors several Guilds were housed, among which the stonemasons and surgeons. This function can still be recognized by the gable stones above the respective entrances. Above the entrance of the surgeons we can read "Theatrum Anatomicum" and at the entrance of the stonemasons we find a sculpture of city architect Hendrick de Keyser. The role as "Theatrum Anatomicum" was immortalized in 1632 by Rembrandt van Rijn in his famous painting "The anatomy lesson of dr. Nicolaes Tulp".
The Modern Waag
The Waag had several functions during later times, among which a workshop, city archive and business location. In addition, it was the location where the Amsterdam Museum and the Joods Historisch Museum (Museum of Jewish History) found their origins. After a long period of abandonment and neglect during the 20th century, it was decided in 1991 that the building should be renovated. Since that time the lower floor has been in use as a restaurant. herinrichting. Sinds die tijd is de onderverdieping in gebruik als restaurant.
During the renovation it also became clear that the Waag was slowly sinking away. The foundations were not strong enough and the building was sinking in the soft ground underneath. The new renovation was completed at the end of 2014, and since that time the building can be appreciated in all its former glory at the center of Nieuwmarkt.
- Ons Amsterdam - edition December 2014
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