Amsterdam’s Dam Square

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Royal Palace, facing Dam Square is far more impressive inside than outside.

The building was designed by Jacob van Campen in the 17th century. It is built on 13,659 wooden piles driven deep into the sandy, wet ground.

The building initially functioned as Amsterdam’s city hall, but it was transformed into a royal palace in 1808, after Napoleon installed his brother as King of the Netherlands.

The building to the right is the New Church (the old church, built in 1300s, is found in the nearby Red Light District). The New Church dates from 1408. It received much damage in the fires of 1421, 1452 and 1645. The tomb of Dutch naval hero Admiraal De Ruyter (1607-1676) is found in the church.

The reason the Royal Palace looks so grimy — instead of stark white, as it used to look when first built — is that its sandstone exterior is particularly susceptible to the influence of the weather as well as dirty air.

The inside of the palace has been under restoration over the past few years, and there was talk of making the exterior white again. Whether that will happen may depend upon better economic times.