The Kerkzaal of the Hermitage Amsterdam

A remarkable room with a breathtaking view. It looks out over the River Amstel and the canal ring with its city palaces lining Herengracht and Keizersgracht. The magical canal ring contains 4,000 historic buildings – including the Hermitage – along a total length of 14 kilometres, connected by 80 bridges. The canal ring is unique in terms of urban development and architecture, and reflects the city’s seventeenth-century ambitions and mercantile spirit. Superbly conserved to this day, it is full of dynamic energy, and since 2010 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Booming Amsterdam

In 1585, Amsterdam had a population of 30,000. Fifteen years later, the figure stood at 50,000. This was at the height of the Eighty Years’ War: the Spanish had blockaded Antwerp’s harbour, and the city on the Amstel and the IJ was flourishing and growing. Many of the new immigrants lived just outside the overcrowded city. Plans were under way for an essential expansion. Many – including burgomasters – seized the opportunity to speculate and buy up land, arousing popular indignation and causing delays. Work on the expansion finally began in 1613, during the Twelve Years’ Truce. There were two major phases. The first phase extended up to Leidsegracht. Fifty years later, when the city’s population stood at almost 200,000, the canal ring was expanded as far as the River Amstel. Building went on at a furious pace. The city palaces became grander than ever, the high point being the ‘Golden Bend’ in Herengracht. Until the Dutch Republic’s Year of Disaster, 1672, in which ‘the people lacked reason, the government lacked counsel, and the country lacked salvation.’ Sales of plots of land for building collapsed. To prevent the land on this side of the River Amstel from degenerating into wasteland, the city donated land to build charitable institutions. One such institution was the Old Women’s Home, built in 1681, where you are now standing.

Please visit the Hermitage Amsterdam for more information about the view of the Kerkzaal.

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on 25 December 2014 and 27 April 2015
Open on 1 January 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.

© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Photo Janiek Dam

More information:
+31 (0)20 530 74 88

More information online ticketing:
+31 (0)20 530 87 55