The World’s Eighth Wonder
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam is the largest & most prestigious building dating from the Dutch Golden Age. Designed by architect Jacob van Campen, it was built between 1648 and 1665 as the city hall, to celebrate the Peace of Münster, which ended the Eighty Years’ War against Spain and confirmed the independence of the Dutch Republic. In 1806, King Louis Napoléon turned the edifice into a royal palace. After his puppet Kingdom of Holland became part of France, the palace briefly enjoyed an imperial status, until King Willem I took over as head of state of the newly established Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 and the palace became royal again. When not in use by the incumbent monarch to host state visits &c., the palace is open to non-state visitors.
The Peace of Münster was a good excuse to replace the existing ramshackle town hall with a state-of-the-art building that would properly reflect Amsterdam’s power and wealth — even at a cost of ƒ 8½ million. Now that the war was finally over, the city could spend a few guilders on something else. In 1655, when it was only half-finished, the new city hall was inaugurated, after the old one had been destroyed in a fire. For two centuries, the city hall, a fine example of Dutch classicism, was the largest secular building in Europe, and already during construction it was called ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. Today, the palace unabatedly continues to impress visitors, with its splendid 17th-century architecture, the sculptures by Artus Quellijn and paintings by painters such as Govert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol, and the refined Empire-style furniture that Louis Napoléon brought in.paleisamsterdam.nl