The Waag ('weigh house') was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam. It is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam. The gate, called as Sint Antoniespoort (Saint Anthony's Gate), was part of the medieval city walls along the moat formed by the current Singel canal and the canals of the Kloveniersburgwal and the Geldersekade. These walls were constructed during the period 1481–1494 and consisted of defensive towers and city gates connected by walls of brick with a natural stone pediment. All that remains of the walls is some sandstone in the Geldersekade canal wall.

When the city expanded beyond its walls the late 16th century, Saint Anthony's Gate lost its function as a city gate. Shortly thereafter, during the years 1603–1613, the walls were demolished. In 1614, the present Nieuwmarkt square was created by covering the canal on either side of the gate. In addition, the square was raised, causing part of the brickwork of the gate to disappear below ground. This makes the building appear shorter than it actually is.

In the early 17th century, the former city gate was repurposed as a weigh house, a public building where various goods were weighed. This new weigh house was needed to relieve the Waag op de Dam, the original weigh house on Dam square, which had become too small for the needs of the rapidly growing city.

An inner courtyard was added in 1617–1618 by covering the area between the front and main gates. A number of guilds were housed on the top floors of the building: the blacksmiths' guild, the painter's guild, the masons' guild and the surgeons' guild. Each guild had its own entrance gate. The guild emblems are still visible over these entrances. The gate of the masons' guild includes sculpture work by Hendrick de Keyser. Over the entrance for the surgeons' guild is the inscription Theatrum Anatomicum.

In 1690–1691, a large dome-shaped hall was added, topped by a central octagonal tower. The interior also dates to this time period.

After falling into disuse as a weigh house, the Waag served a range of different functions. In the 19th century it was used consecutively as a fencing hall, a furniture workshop, a workshop for oil lamps used for street lighting, a fire station, and as the city archives. In the first half of the 19th century, punishments were carried out in front of the building. There was even a guillotine.

In the 20th century, the building was used primarily as a museum. It was the original location of the Amsterdams Historisch Museum (now Amsterdam Museum) as well as the Joods Historisch Museum (Jewish Historical Museum). Following the restoration, the building was rented out. Waag Society, a foundation that aims to foster experimentation with new technologies, art and culture, is housed on the upper floors. The ground floor is now a café and restaurant.

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Founded: 1481–1494
Category: Castles and fortifications in Netherlands

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4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Elien van Riet (3 months ago)
It is an amazing historical place. The food is great too!
Phil *Ol Gil* Sylvester (5 months ago)
Delicious lunch in a beautiful building - highly recommend!
Yuri Radomskyi (12 months ago)
It's 2020 and they still don't know what vegan is. The food they brought contained in one way or another some non-vegan things, like cream on the bread sticks. At dessert they've corrected themselves and brought a plate of fruit instead of diary ice cream. Great job! Otherwise the place is nice.
Steve Keogh (12 months ago)
Lovely food, beer and wine selection here in a great little spot, and a beautiful building. Good for a place to meet as a group of friends or family. Large tables, friendly and helpful service. Food was good quality and value.
Jeevan Manavalan (13 months ago)
Very cool building and interior. The place has a very nice atmosphere, it feels like the perfect place to drink although I went there for breakfast which was excellent. Both the pancakes and egg benedict were made properly so nothing bad to say. The staff are very accommodating and friendly. Would highly recommend you check it out once it gets a bit darker so that all the candles and unique lighting stands out more. I'd probably suggest you go there for a drink given the general vibe and type of customers I saw there.
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