Essential Architecture-  Amsterdam


Plain Amsterdam Renaissance

Herengracht 81 (±1625)

Stepped gables dominated the scene during the period of the Amsterdam Renaissance. The last stepped gables were built as late as 1665, but by that time the hey-day of the baroque Amsterdam Renaissance was well and truly over. The Plain Amsterdam Renaissance style (circa 1615 - circa 1665) is roughly contemporary with its flamboyant counterpart and may be regarded as a logical development of the baroque Renaissance. The baroque Renaissance style was widely copied by home owners who could afford a simple canal house but whose means would not allow them to build a fully-fledged baroque double mansion. Cost reduction and the ensuing simplification of the baroque Renaissance style resulted in a plain style which came to resemble the Dutch Renaissance style of the preceding decades. However, the relieving arches were now decorated with three large blocks of sandstone (in contrast with the large number of small blocks of the earlier period). Round 1640 this type of stepped gable had become the predominant type. The main characteristics of this architecture are:

  • simple stepped gables (similar to the ones build around 1600), resembling the Harlem Renaissance gables (i.e. a large number of small evenly divided steps without crolls) with pilasters crowned by a modest sculptural element
  • windows placed in niches which make the window piers look like pilasters (without capitals and bases)
  • simple relieving arches (usually basket handle arches or segmental arches) with three heavy sandstone blocks for decorative elements (i.e. two springstones and one keystone)
  • few sandstone strips (rashers of bacon)

Bloemgracht 87-89-91 (1642)

Telling examples: Herengracht 346 (Oranjeappel/The Orange, 1615), Keizersgracht 117 (±1618), Keizersgracht 170 (1620), Rozengracht 81 (±1620), Herengracht 81 (±1625), Egelantiersstraat 52 (±1625), Nieuwendijk 30 (1630), Herengracht 77 (1632), Spuistraat 53 (1633), Enge Kerksteeg 4 (1634), Nieuwendijk 113 (1635), Singel 64 (1637), Spuistraat 88 (1640), Torensteeg 8 (±1640), Prinsengracht 2 (1641), Bloemgracht 87-88-89 (1642), Singel 450 (1642), Rozenstraat 56 (1646), Egelantiersgracht 8 (1649), Korte Prinsengracht 5 (1653), Herengracht 361 (±1655) and Prinsengracht 175 (1661). Further examples: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 142, Amstel 54, Haarlemmerdijk 49, Halvemaansteeg 3-5, Prins Hendrikkade 105, Keizersgracht 104, Nieuwe Leliestraat 85, Rozenstraat 54 and Spuistraat 232 (dates unknown).

One extremely austere version of this style dispenses almost completely with decorative elements such as sandstone blocks and strips, niches and pilasters. Examples: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 8 (±1600), 1ste Leliedwarsstraat 15 (1644), Zandhoek 6 (±1660), Gouwenaarssteeg 23-25 (1661) en Utrechtsestraat 141, the youngest stepped gable in Amsterdam with a fixed date (1667). Furthermore: Egelantiersstraat 29-31, 2de Goudbloemdwarsstraat 10, Oudebrugsteeg 22, Spui 11, Spuistraat 50, 294 en 296, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 31 (dates unknown).


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