Frederik de Wit: View on the Dam Square (1655)

(Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A print by the Dutch artist Frederik de Wit (1630-1706). This engraving offers a view of the large market square in Amsterdam, called the 'Dam square' (the name Dam square refers to the original function of the square - a dam in the river Amstel). Depicted is the west side of the square with the recently finished new city hall in the center (constructed between 1648-1655), this building is now the royal palace of Amsterdam, In front of the city hall is the weigh house (constructed in 1565 and demolished in 1808 by order of Louis Bonaparte who complained that the building 'ruined his view'. At the back of the weigh house with the large tower is the New church of Amsterdam, originally build in 1408. The large tower of the church is fictional. This tower was first proposed when the old church of Amsterdam got a new bell tower in 1565 (the tower had to be larger than the bell tower of St. Martin's Cathedral in Utrecht which is 112m high). Construction of the new tower started eventually in 1646 but the project soon ran into opposition within the city council. When the project faced financial problems 7 years later the construction was completely stopped as the construction of the new city hall had more priority. The lower half of the tower which was half finished was demolished in 1783. The portal of the new church in the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal is the remnant of this tower. In the lower right corner you can see a small part of the river Amstel. engraving from 1655.