The Royal Palace of Amsterdam was on my wish list for our short trip to Amsterdam. We were lucky, no official function of the Royal Family was taking place while we were in town so we were able to go on a discovery tour.
The Palais op de Dam is in a central location int the city centre of Amsterdam. It is hard to miss the opulent building and the very busy square in front of it.
Via a modest entrance visitors get inside the building. But before the tour can start one has to lock away all bags and coats. Handbags are allowed in the building as well as taking pictures.
The history of the Royal Palace
The building was constructed in the Golden Age of the Netherlands (1648 – 1665). At this time, Amsterdam was at the zenith of its power. Originally, the palace wasn’t intended for royal use as the Netherlands were a republic at this time. It only became a monarchy in 1804. It was built for the magistrate and the municipal court. The mayor used it as a residence as well.
Construction was surely difficult. The building rests on over 130000 wooden pillars and the positioning of these pillars was recognised as a modern architectural wonder at the time. As it is typical for so many construction projects the costs grew astronomically and only after a new head of construction was brought in the costs were somewhat kept in check from then on. The Town Hall was inaugurated in 1655.
The building lost its function as the city’s Town Hall in 1808. King Louis Bonaparte used the building has his residential palace. Since those days the building was called Royal Palace. The Royal Family bought the palace from the city in 1939. Today, the Royal Family is only present in the building for official functions.
The building was opened for the public after reconstruction works were completed in 2009.
A visit to the Royal Palace
It becomes apparent that this palace is different than other palaces we have visited before just by looking at the outside. It is a very compact building and it has no palace garden. The footprint is square with a dome in the middle. A tower rises from it, some 20 meters high, with a weather vane shaped like a Dutch cog.
Figurines on the roof represent the Westphalian Peace, Intelligence and Justice. All symbols that fit more on the roof of a Town Hall than on the roof of a Royal Palace and therefore highlight the original usage of the building to this day.
One enters the Citizen’s Hall first. This great, barrel vault hall fills the entire depth and height of the building. The hall’s ceiling is 28 meters high. It’s framed by marble galleries and has a wonderful floor mosaic that shows a picture of the earth in the middle.
Paintings showing all sorts of motives are hung on the walls. It is impressive to stand in this massive hall. Countless windows allow for plenty of natural light which is additionally enhanced by enormous ceiling lamps. A statue at the top end of the room literally carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.
From the Citizen’s Hall one has access to other areas of the palace. Visitors can view different rooms and halls that all serve different purposes. There is everything from bedroom to reception room. A good portion of the furniture is very old and gives the rooms a classy and royal atmosphere.
The audio guide is perfect for a tour of the Royal Palace. It offers interesting information around the rooms and also the history of the palace.
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147,
1012 RJ Amsterdam,
Daily: 10:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Opening hours can change depending on events and official functions in the building. The most current information around the opening hours can be found on the website.
Discounts are available. The audio guide is included in the ticket price.