Essential Architecture-  Amsterdam


Bell-shaped gables (±1660-±1790)

17th Century

Keizersgracht 716 (1671),
early bell-shaped gable

The bell-shaped gable was common between roughly 1660 and 1790. This type is widely regarded as a further stage in the development of the neck-gable. The influential classicist style favoured austere and flat facades. Top gable ornamentation became less elaborate and sandstone croll stones were dispensed with. However, the bell-shaped gables retained the contours of the neck-gables. The croll stone area was incorporated into the brick facade. An alternative name for the bell-shaped gable top is therefore: neck-gable with curved edges, e.g. Singel 460. Herengracht 607 (1670) illustrates the transition from neck to bell-shaped gable. Keizersgracht 716 (1671) is one of the earliest bell-shaped gables with its sandstone strips along the sides (so-called soldier courses).

Herenstraat 40 (1686),
bell-shaped gable with fruit and floral decoration

Slightly more elaborate are bell-shaped gables decorated with garlands of fruit and flowers. They occurred frequently during the period 1680-1690. Examples: Leidsegracht 37 (1666); Herengracht 394 (approx. 1671); Singel 97 (approx. 1690); Oudezijds Voorburgwal 67 (approx. 1680); Herenstraat 40 (1686); Reguliersgracht 37-39 (approx. 1690); Bloemgracht 13 (date unknown). Some of these houses have vases decorating the corners: Prinsengracht 505 (approx. 1680/90); Keizersgracht 580-582 (1687); Herengracht 574 (1686). It is striking that many of these houses are corner houses. Bell-shaped gables were often used for somewhat simpler houses. During the 19th century many of the 17th century bell-shaped gables were simplified by replacing the sandstone decoration by soldier courses carried out in brick. Examples: Wieringerstraat 2 (approx. 1670) and Singel 330 (1638).

18th Century

Louis XIV bell-shaped gables:
Singel 104-106
OZ Voorburgwal 133
(2nd quarter of the 18th century)

In the course of the 18th century bell-shaped gables became taller and more elaborate. The swerving contours of the soldier course became more pronounced and, near the very top, even bulged out. The Classicist frontons and festoons disappeared. Under the influence of the Louis XIV, XV and XVI styles springstones became more playful, while frontons were richly decorated with elegantly shaped mouldings. Bell-shaped gables in Louis XIV style often have (symmetrically shaped) crests or decorative vases.

Examples of Louis XIV bell-shaped gables: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 44 (1st quarter 18th century); Oudezijds Voorburgwal 103 (1st quarter 18th century); Geldersekade 56 (1732); Amstel 34 (warehouse, 1733); Oudezijds Voorburgwal 136 (1733); Singel 496 (1739); Herengracht 308 (approx. 1740); Begijnhof 26-27 (approx. 1740); Singel 440 (approx. 1740); Singel 104-106 (1743); Brouwersgracht 56 (1744); Oudezijds Voorburgwal 133 (2nd quarter 18th century).

The asymmetrical Louis XV style, or Rococo, is a better match for the bell-shaped gable than its predecessor the Baroque or Louis XIV style. Therefore, bell-shaped gables with Louis XV decoration are more frequent than bell-shaped gables with Louis XIV decoration.

Bell-shaped gables in Louis XV:
Keizersgracht 322 (±1750) Keizersgracht 546 (±1760)

Examples of Louis XV bell-shaped gables: Herengracht 287 (approx. 1750); Keizersgracht 227 (approx. 1750); Keizersgracht 240 (approx. 1750); Keizersgracht 322 (approx. 1750); Leliegracht 60 (approx. 1750); Gravenstraat 18 (approx. 1750); Oudezijds Voorburgwal 101 (approx. 1752); Kloveniersburgwal 41-43 (1755); Singel 96 (approx. 1755); Herengracht 228 (approx. 1760); Keizersgracht 449 (approx. 1760); Keizersgracht 546 (approx. 1760); Reestraat 8 (1763); Spiegelgracht 9 (1764); Prinsengracht 300 (1767, Red Fox); Oudezijds Voorburgwal 105 and 107 (3rd quarter 18th century). A most peculiar example of a single bell-shaped top gable shared by two houses is Brouwersgracht 79, a late Louis XV gable (approx. 1765).

Louis XVI bell-shaped gable:
Singel 145 (±1780)

Louis XVI bell-shaped gables are extremely rare. The only two surviving examples are Singel 145 (approx. 1780) and Korsjespoortsteeg 6 (approx. 1780). A third member of this select group (at Haarlemmerstraat) was recently pulled down.

19th Century

This type of gable did not escape 19th century up-dating proceedings either. Many bell-shaped gables were "simplified". Some examples: Singel 63, Singel 330, Keizersgracht 17. The resulting top gables may well be termed mutilated bell-shaped gables. From the point of view of the history of architecture they are not very interesting. Moreover, they are not usually included in the category of bell-shaped gables proper.


Special thanks to the Amsterdam Bureau of Monuments and Archeology website,