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amsterdam town hall

Jacob van Campen, Model for the Amsterdam Town Hall, 1648-1650, Amsterdams Historisch Museum

Town Hall, under construction


The Town Hall of Amsterdam, designed by Jacob van Campen beginning in 1648, was intended to house the administrative offices and assembly hall of the Amsterdam Town Council. The building was also a symbol of the political and economic power of the newly established Dutch Republic and its capital city Amsterdam. By the seventeenth century, the city had become one of the most important ports, and the main banking center of northern Europe. Its growing wealth and confidence are reflected in the monumental design and rich materials of the Town Hall. The façade was built of sandstone imported from Germany, and its interiors sumptuously decorated with Italian marble. Foreign visitors to the city marveled at the building's expense and lavish construction, which was unprecedented in the Netherlands. In 1813 it was converted into the Royal Palace of the Netherlands.

This carefully finished model of 1648-1650 was probably made to present the architect's design to the city council. The exterior is adorned with intricate sculptural and decorative details, and the interior demonstrates the arrangement of rooms inside the building. The model consists of several levels, which can each be removed, revealing numerous rooms, such as the mayor's office, the guard rooms, an arsenal, the city bank, a courtroom, a prison, and a torture chamber. With few exceptions, the Town Hall was built as shown in the model, and inaugurated on 29 July1655.

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