Look up to see the palace's original weathervane in the shape of a cog ship - the symbol of the city of Amsterdam.
Overlooking Dam Square is the magnificent Koninklijk Paleis. First built as a city hall during the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, the building’s ornate Baroque exterior and luxurious marble halls tell of the prosperity of the time.
Amsterdam at this point was thought of as the ‘Rome of the North’ - today it’s more commonly described as a Northern Venice - and the architect Jacob van Campen was inspired by Roman administrative buildings in its construction for the city’s councillors.
In 1806 the building began to serve a rather less civic function, as Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Louis seized it for his palace upon becoming King Louis I of Holland. It changed hands between various French and Dutch regents over the following years, before finally becoming the property of the Kingdom of the Netherlands again in 1936.
Today, the royal family still use the palace for official and ceremonial functions around 10 times annually, and it is open to visitors most of the year. Audio tours explain the uses of its opulent rooms, which feature impressive chandeliers and marble sculpture. Particularly lovely is the Great Hall (Groote Burger-Zaal), which features three vast marble floor maps by famed cartographer Joan Blaeu, displaying the northern and southern hemispheres and one of the earliest maps of the heliocentric solar system.
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