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Paleis Op de Dam


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History of Royal Palace, Amsterdam (Paleis Op de Dam)

The name "Paleis Op de Dam" means "Royal Palace at the Dam Square". This is the site where the Amstel river was dammed in the 13th century, giving the city its name ("Amstel + Dam" = "Amsterdam").

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The celebrated architect Jacob van Campen, took control of the building-project in 1648.

The entire building was constructed of white stone, though the weathering of the centuries has left none of it visible. On 20 July 1655, the burgomasters and the magistrates opened the first section. The Royal Palace is famous for its rich and imposing decorations. Renowned sculptors were brought to Amsterdam and famous painters such as Rembrandt and Ferdinand Bol contributed to the interior. The central theme, featuring in much of the decoration, was the power of Amsterdam in particular and the Dutch Republic in general. The building served as the city hall for a century and a half. In 1806, the Batavian Republic was forced to accept Louis Napoleon, the brother of the French Emperor, as the King of Holland. Louis Napoleon originally opted to live in The Hague, but in 1807 he decided to move to Amsterdam. In 1808, he took possession of the city hall and converted it to a Royal Palace with decoration in the Empire style. Visitors of the Royal Palace can still visit the famous collection of Empire furniture bought by Louis Napoleon.

On the fall of Emperor Napoleon in 1813, Prince William, later King William I, returned the Palace to the city of Amsterdam. However, after his investiture, the new King realised the importance of having a home in the capital, and asked the city authorities to make the Palace available to him once again. It was not until 1936 that it became state property.

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam is now used mainly for entertaining and official functions, such as state visits, the Queen’s New Year receptions and other official receptions. Every year, it provides the setting for the presentation of the Erasmus Prize, the Silver Carnation, the Royal Awards for Painting and the Prince Claus Award. The foundation that manages the palace opens it to the public when it is not in use by the Royal House. Every summer, an exhibition highlights one historical or artistic feature of the building. Following the annual presentation of the Royal Awards for Painting in October, the prize-winning works of art are put on public display.



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