Kattengat, Amsterdam

Kattengat, Amsterdam

The two houses with the red shutters were built in 1614 by soap maker Laurens Jansz Spiegel. The houses are topped with sculptured mirrors in reference to the family name. Spiegel is Dutch for mirror.

The wealthy merchant, who built the houses as a form of investment, called the building ‘De Gouden Spiegel’ (The Gold Mirror) and ‘De Silveren Spiegel’ (The Silver Mirror).

Before 1600 Kattengat, the street were these houses are found, was a ditch in a neighborhood full of warehouses and businesses. Eventually the ditch was turned into a small canal between the Singel and the Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal (nowadays Spuistraat) canals. At the time any narrow alley or ditch was referred to as ‘kattengat’ — an opening so small only a cat could negotiate it.

The houses, which have a timber framework, were restored in 1931. They currently are home to the highly-acclaimed De Silveren Spiegel restaurant, which offers traditional Dutch cuisine.

Note: During World War II 16 Jews hid in the attic.