This time, Amsterdam by Night puts its Spotlight at the Royal Palace at Dam square. The elegant building dominates the central square of the city and has a rich history. Although the building nowadays functions as a palace of the Royal family, it was originally constructed as the city hall of Amsterdam.
City Hall of Amsterdam
During the 17th century, Amsterdam became one of the largest trading centers in the world, and the original city hall had insufficient capacity to deal with the growing population and economy. Therefore it was decided to construct a new city hall that would reflect the glory of Amsterdam. A competition was held and in the glory days of the Golden Age the most ambitious project was selected. In 1648, the construction of the new classicistic building at Dam square started under supervision of Jacob van Campen. The interior was decorated by famous artists like the sculptor Quellinus and the painters Rembrandt van Rijn, Govaert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol. The new city hall was commissioned in 1655, although construction was not yet fully completed. It did not take long before the city hall became known as one of the world wonders, at least among people from Amsterdam.
When the Netherlands, in the aftermath of the French revolution, were conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte his brother Lodewijk Napoleon was crowned king of the Netherlands. While looking for a suitable place to stay, his eyes fell on the city hall of Amsterdam. In 1809 he moved in and changed it from a city hall to a palace. While Lodewijk Napoleon abdicated from the throne in 1810, the palace stayed under French control. On the 9th of October 1811, Napoleon Bonaparte himself was received with great festivities when he visited Amsterdam.
The Modern Palace
After the French moved out there were some initial plans to give the palace back its original function as the city hall. This however never happened, partly due to the high expenses involved in reconstruction and renovation. Until 1935, the palace was still owned by the city of Amsterdam, but in that year it was sold for 10 million Dutch Guilders to the state of the Netherlands. Since then the palace is used for hosting the receptions during official state visits. It was also the location where princess Beatrix abdicated from the throne for her son King Willem-Alexander on the 30th of April 2013. When the palace is not used for Royal visits it is open to the public. The central hall and historic French interior are certainly worth a visit.
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