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Royal Palace (Amsterdam)

Dam Square, Amsterdam, tel.: +31 020 620-40-60.

http://www.paleisamsterdam.nl

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam or Paleis op de Dam (the Palace, for short) is one of four palaces in the Netherlands which is at the disposal of Queen Beatrix by Act of Parliament.

The Palace was built as town hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. The building became the royal palace of kin 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 town hall was 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. The building was built on 13,659 wooden piles and cost 8,5 million gulden. 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 Daniel Stalpaert. The sculptures were executed by Artus Quellijn.

The central hall is 36.6 metres (120 feet) long, 18.3 metres (60 feet) wide and 27.4 metres (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. They replaced an earlier pair made in the late 1650s. The originals showed the regions explored by the Dutch East India Company'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.

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.

The King of Holland did not have long to appreciate his new palace. He abdicated on 2 July 1810, his son Napoleon Louis Bonaparte succeeded him for 10 days as King Louis II, and then the Netherlands was annexed by France. The palace then became home to the French governor, Charles Francois 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.

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 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 Maxima 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.

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Royal Palace



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