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.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.