The Royal Palace is one of three palaces in the Netherlands which are at the disposal of the monarch by Act of Parliament. The palace was built as the Town Hall of the City of Amsterdam and was opened as such on 29 July 1655 by Cornelis de Graeff, the political and social leader of Amsterdam. It is now called as the royal palace and used by the monarch for entertaining and official functions during state visits and other official receptions, such as New Year receptions. The award ceremonies of the Erasmus Prize, of the Silver Carnation, of the Royal Awards for Painting, and of the Prince Claus Award are also held in the palace.
The palace was built by Jacob van Campen, who took control of the construction project in 1648. It was built on 13,659 wooden piles and cost 8.5 million gulden. A yellowish sandstone from Bentheim in Germany was used for the entire building. The stone has darkened considerably in the course of time. Marble was the chosen material for the interior.
Jacob van Campen was inspired by Roman administrative palaces. He drew inspiration from the public buildings of Rome. He wanted to build a new capitol for the Amsterdam burgomasters who thought of themselves as the consuls of the new Rome of the North. The technical implementation was looked after by the town construction master Daniël Stalpaert. The sculptures were executed by Artus Quellijn.
On the marble floor of the central hall there are two maps of the world with a celestial hemisphere. The Western and Eastern hemispheres are shown on the maps. The hemispheres detail the area of Amsterdam's colonial influence. The terrestrial hemispheres were made in the mid-18th century. They replaced an earlier pair made in the late 1650s. The originals showed the regions explored by the Dutch East India Company's ships in the first half of the 17th century. This feature may have been inspired by the map of the Roman Empire that had been engraved on marble and placed in the Porticus Vipsania, a public building in ancient Rome.
On top of the palace is a large domed cupola, topped by a weather vane in the form of a cog ship. This ship is a symbol of Amsterdam. Just underneath the dome there are a few windows. From here one could see the ships arrive and leave the harbour.
Paintings inside include works by Govert Flinck (who died before finishing a cycle of twelve huge canvases), Jacob Jordaens, Jan Lievens and Ferdinand Bol. Rembrandt's largest work, The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis was commissioned for the building, but after hanging for some months was returned to him; the remaining fragment is now in Stockholm.
In its time the building was one of many candidates for the title of the Eighth Wonder of the World. Also, for a long time it was the largest administrative building in Europe.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.