Situated on Dam Square in the very heart of Amsterdam lies the Amsterdam Royal Palace, originally built as a magistrates’ city hall during the 17th century Dutch Golden Age. Today it stands as one of three royal palaces for the monarchy’s use, hosting official foreign head of state visits, the King’s New Year reception and presentation ceremonies for royal prizes.
The Amsterdam Royal Palace was once the largest secular building in Europe and considered as an 8th Wonder of the World, is now open to the public as a museum showcasing the artistic talents and explorations of the Dutch. The marble floor of the central hall features two maps of the world, made during the mid-18th century and divided into Western and Eastern hemispheres that detail Amsterdam’s colonial influence. They replaced an earlier pair of maps which illustrated the explorations of the Dutch East India Company during the early 17th century and were believed to be modelled on the marble engravings on ancient Rome’s Porticus Vipsania. Paintings throughout the palace showcase the talents of the Dutch masters, including works by Rembrandt, Flinck and Jordaens, topped by a large domed cupola with a weather vane depicting Amsterdam’s symbol, a cog ship. The windows beneath the dome were once used to view ships arriving and departing from the harbour and the cupola contains a famous set of carillon bells cast in 1664 by François and Pieter Hemony.
The Royal Palace is located on the western side of Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam, best accessed from the Dam tram stop. It’s also just a short walk from the city’s Central Station along the busy shopping strip of the Nieuwendijk.
The building was officially opened as the Town Hall of the City of Amsterdam on the 29th of July in 1655, following its construction by architect Jacob van Campen using sandstone sourced from Bentheim in Germany. He drew inspiration from public buildings and palaces of Rome, with the burgomasters of the day considering their city the new “Rome of the North”.