The Amsterdam Royal Palace: Where History and Royalty Come TogetherHeather Tucker, Friday, August 2, 2013
“Oh my goodness.”
It was a version of those three words that ran through my head as I reached the top of the stairs and looked into the Citizens’ Hall of the Amsterdam Royal Palace.
Located in Dam Square - a five minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal Station - in Amsterdam (and thus also known as the Dam Palace), this imposing but often overlooked building is actually open to the public when not being used for Royal events. I’d walked right past it loads of times before without properly paying attention to neither what it was, nor that you could go in it.
On a busy day the entrance can be hard to spot amongst the market stands, pigeons and individuals dressed up as Star Wars characters in an attempt to get you to part with your money. But the entrance is well worth searching out.
Originally built as a town hall for Amsterdam’s administrative and judicial authorities, the Amsterdam Royal Palace is now one of three palaces used by the Royal House. You might remember it if you tuned into the abdication and investiture that happened earlier this year (2013). The reddish oval shaped table where all the signatures were signed and the balcony from which the new King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima waved from are all part of this palace.
A free audio guide moves you through the rooms and halls that are open to the public, including that impressive Citizens’ Hall that made my jaw drop. It is here that you can also watch an interesting short film about the events that have happened in and around the palace through the decades.
You can visit the Tribunal on the ground floor and almost all the rooms on the first floor, including the Burgomasters’ Council Room, the City Council Chamber and the Magistrates’ Court.
There are some practical details to be aware of when it comes to visiting. Because the palace is still used for Royal events it is important to check the website before you visit to make sure it is open on the day you intend to drop by.
Coats, umbrellas, backpacks and bags are not allowed (including handbags) and must be checked in at the free cloakroom. You can ask for a small plastic bag to carry your small bits and pieces but anything above this size is forbidden – breaking something in a Royal Palace is expensive.
Photography is allowed but only without flash and without a tripod. Filming is not allowed. And there are plenty of staff keeping their eye on you, so don’t bother pushing the rules.
There is a small gift shop at the entrance/exit, as well as toilets. Ladies, the buttons for the toilets and the sinks are on the floor for you to activate with your foot. That might save you a few seconds of searching.