The Dutch Golden Age

The Dutch Golden Age (17th century) was a period of great wealth for the Dutch Republic. With the East India Company (VOC), trade blossomed. Cities who were members of the VOC were among the richest in Holland, and the rich history of these cities is still visible in their many mansions, canals, churches, city walls and harbours. Art and science blossomed as well, which can be seen in the paintings of the famous Dutch Masters: Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer and Steen.

The Golden Age Trail

Trace the Golden Age Trail on a journey through the destinations that shaped Holland – and the world – throughout the 17th century. The country’s newfound wealth, coupled with open-minded attitudes towards religious and intellectual freedom, made Holland a haven for European immigrants, refugees from Flanders, and those escaping persecution in Spain and Portugal. This population boom strengthened Holland’s position as a global leader and contributed to some of the greatest achievements in art and academia. As merchants sailed to other – for them – unknown continents, the Dutch East India Company – the world’s first multinational company – was established, and the six Dutch ports that were home to its chambers thrived throughout this era.

Explore Golden Age history throughout Holland

Discover Dordrecht, a city that was already booming before the Dutch Golden Age, and which played an essential role in the formation of the Dutch Republic. Meet Frans Hals in Haarlem, along with the other immigrant artists who changed the course of art history. Take a trip back to Golden Age Leiden, where the city’s appetite for innovation influenced Rembrandt van Rijn’s early career. Rembrandt and other Dutch Masters from the Golden Age have continued to hold a prominent place in art history through the centuries.

Discover Holland’s prosperous history

Find out why Rembrandt and his contemporaries in Amsterdam owe much of their success to the wealthy merchants who had the means to fill their homes with art and commission prominent works, and relive the Golden Age today via Amsterdam’s top museums. The wealth from trade spread through to Middelburg, which was an important base for the Dutch East India Company and became known for the ornate Golden Age architecture that remains today. Learn why Hoorn and Enkhuizen also flourished during the era, transforming from fishing villages to thriving centers of trade, where earning a living was easier and outsiders were welcomed. The goods that returned from Asia and Africa captivated the European market, such as the iconic blue and white pottery that was then famously reproduced in Golden Age Delft. These developments were spurred on by forward-thinking authorities that implemented policies in The Hague, the new center of power in Golden Age Holland. Stroll along its wide boulevards and experience masterpieces like Vermeer’s ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ in its museums.