Essential Architecture-  Amsterdam


Early Renaissance

During the period 1540-1600 we cannot distinguish a specifically Amsterdam style of architecture yet. This is the period commonly referred to as early Renaissance.

  Holy Grave (±1540)


Some remnants of this style are: the chapel of the Holy Grave in the Oude Kerk (circa 1540); the facade of the north transept of the Nieuwe Kerk (circa 1540); the bell tower of the Oude Kerk designed by Joost Jansz Bilhamer (1565); three small gates at the Stadstimmerwerf (= municipal lumber yard) dating back to 1571, 1631 and 1634. (Two of the gates were removed and later became part of other buildings i.e. the Agnietenkapel and one of the entrances of the Orphanage at the Sint Luciënsteeg. The third gate was lost.)

  Gate Agnietenkapel

Strap work ornamentation in the manner of Vredeman de Vries became popular in about 1570. The S or C-shaped decoration follows the contours of the top gable. Hendrick de Keyser’s early designs still refer back to this style, e.g. the southern facade of the courtyard of the Oost-Indisch Huis, Oude Hoogstraat (1605) and the former Militiegebouw or Bushuis, Singel 423 (1606).

  Sint Annenstraat 12

The only surviving house still in possession of its original strap work ornamentation is Sint Annenstraat 12 (1565). In 1993 Stadsherstel (a private enterprise involved in the preservation and restoration of historic buildings) took the house apart and put it back together two years later. Singel 140-142 (The Dolphin), dating back to circa 1600, is an early representative of the Renaissance style developed by Hendrick de Keyser. Strap work ornamentation still forms an integral part of the design.


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