January 23, 2013

Royal Residences: The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam or Het Koninklijk Paleis, formerly the town hall was built in the seventeenth century.

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Historical background of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam

1648-1808 The City Hall era

In the seventeenth century Amsterdam saw a big increase in population and the city was known to be a great trading center. The old town hall was becoming to small for such a growing city which had more and more administrative tasks to take care of. It was at that time that the Mayor of Amsterdam asked the famous architect Jacob van Campen to design a town hall that was big and fancy enough for a growing city like Amsterdam. Construction of the sandstone building began in 1648 and more than 13600 piles were used for the foundations of this enormous building. Although the construction work wasn't finished the ceremonial inauguration of the building was held in 1655. Ten years later the building was completed. However interior decorations weren't completed until 1720.

Construction of The Town Hall

1808-1813 The Napoléon era

In 1806 Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon the French emperor, became King of Holland. He had the City Hall completely refurbished, with galleries divided up in to rooms with wood partitions; with the rooms furnished in Empire style. He had the jail in the basement turned into wine cellars and he also built a balcony which is still used by the royal family today. By 1810 King Louis Bonaparte had become quite popular among the dutch people but his brother, Emperor Bonaparte, didn't like the way he ran the country so he was fired from his position and the building became Napoleons Imperial Palace.

The Royal Palace in 1814

1813-present The Orange era

When the French Empire came to an end the Royal House of Orange-Nassau was re-established in Holland and Prince William I was named "sovereign prince". He later proclaimed himself King of the Netherlands. He gave the Royal Palace back to the city so it could be used as a city hall again. His offer was accepted but later Amsterdam was made capital city of Holland and the King realised the importance of having a residence in the capital city so the city gave him the right to use the old Town Hall as his residence and the building became a Royal Palace again.

Current use of The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The Royal Palace is currently one of the palaces in Holland that is in use by the Dutch Royal family. It is owned by the Dutch state. Although it is not the official residence of the Royal Family, the Palace is often used to welcome foreign heads of state when they visit Holland on official occasions and it is also used for celebrations such as royal weddings. When the Royal Palace is not in use by the Royal Family the palace is open to the public.

The Dutch Royal Family waves from the balcony of The Royal Palace

Art in The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Although Louis Napoléon made many changes to the palace in his days he treated the seventeenth century ornaments with much respect. In fact the ornaments have been preserved to this day. Some of the paintings and other ornaments can be seen on Google Art.

Helpful links for further reading

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