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:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.