Essential Architecture-  Amsterdam


Gothic Architecture

a Gothic house
a wooden house
(Kok 1946)

In 1954, when excavations were carried out in the Oudekerksplein area, archaeologists uncovered the remnants of a stone house dating back to the 14th century. From the 1350s onwards the more innovative among Amsterdam home owners started to build stone houses in the Warmoesstraat, Nieuwendijk and Oudezijds and Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. However, it was not until the 1550s that stone houses were built on a larger scale. After the great fires of 1421 and 1452, which consumed large parts of the medieval city (30 and 75% resp.), several attempts were made to curb the use of wood. But to no avail. The legislation passed by the city administrators was largely ignored. It took Amsterdam home owners more than a century to start observing the regulations.

Begijnhof 34

The first stone houses were Gothic houses. None of them survive today. In 1909 a stone Gothic house was discovered near the Prins Hendrikkade. It was pulled down that very same year. The only remnants of Gothic architecture in Amsterdam are churches (especially Oude Kerk, Nieuwe Kerk). The Amsterdam version of Gothic architecture is commonly referred to as ‘Dutch Brick Gothic’ or ‘Polder Gothic’ architecture, although it is important to realise that the Nieuwe Kerk shares some features with French Gothic architecture. Apart from the two major churches, some medieval chapels with Gothic elements survive today.

Corbel piece with nib,
Begijnhof 34

Fortunately several Amsterdam houses are still in possession of their original Gothic timber frames, including the traditional nib decorations. Examples: Warmoesstraat 83 (±1400), Begijnhof 1 and 2-3 (±1425), Begijnhof 34 (±1425) and Warmoesstraat 5 (±1500) and the warehouses Warmoesstraat 42 (back elevation) and Oudezijds Achterburgwal 78.


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