"" Writer's Wanderings: Amsterdam, The Palace

Monday, May 15, 2023

Amsterdam, The Palace

 Well, I did it again. Back in Amsterdam to begin the second segment of our cruise, amid all the hustle and bustle of people leaving and arriving to the two ships in port and of course the bicycle traffic, I managed to misstep and twist my ankle coming off a curb that I didn't see. The good news, I didn't get run over by a bicycle.

After fighting off the lightheadedness from the instant pain, I determined we would go on. I could at least hobble and since I've gotten shorter in my old age, everyone would think I was a Hobbit. Bad joke?

We had plenty of time to get to the Amsterdam Royal Palace so we could take it slow. We'd already bought the tickets online and after waiting just a few minutes while they set up the Open signs, we went in with the rest of the small crowd who were waiting. 

The palace at one time was actually the town hall and dates back to the 17th century. In 1808, King Louis Boneparte, Napoleon's brother, converted the town hall into his palace. A lot of the furniture dates back to that time period and to my surprise, is still used today during official receptions. 

After the fall of Napoleon in 1813, Pince Willem of Orange (soon to become king) returned the palace to the city but then later asked that he be able to use it as a palace once again since he felt it important to have a home in the capital city. In 1936, the building became state property.

Today it is used mainly for entertaining and official functions such as state visits. When heads of states visit, the original beds are replaced with today's beds. 

There is a huge room, the Citizen's Hall, which is used for large banquets. Atlas, holding the world on his shoulders is portrayed on one end of the room. Huge chandeliers hang above your head and at your feet are three large circled areas in the floor representing maps of the earth and skies. When there is a large reception, they cover the floor with carpeting to protect the historical work. 

There were several bedrooms that were off a large corridor that surrounded that central Citizen's Hall. Apparently Bonaparte and his wife did not like each other very much and had two separate rooms. One of the bedrooms we peeked into that had a sitting room next to it was where Winston Churchill had stayed for a week. 

I had to giggle to myself a bit. This was one huge bed and breakfast. I couldn't imagine how you would find your way to breakfast in the morning. But then I suppose either breakfast was served in your room or a servant would fetch you and lead you to the breakfast table. When you're hobbling around on a swelling ankle, your mind tends to get a little flaky I guess.

The meeting room? Not breakfast?

The last room we visited was one where the death sentence was handed down to those who were convicted of murder. The sculptures in there all had bowed heads and several covering their eyes as if in deep sadness for the crime and the punishment. There were several places where a serpent was entwined on a pole or tree to refer to the original sin in the garden. From this room, the condemned would be taken to another room to receive prayer before being led out to the square to be hanged.

I don't recall ever seeing so much marble and statuary in a place before. It truly was beautiful and well worth the 12.50 Euros/each to see it. The next time we are in Amsterdam, in two weeks, there won't be time for sightseeing. We'll be in that massive crowd we saw in the morning when two ships came in and disembarked passengers. I'll be more careful to watch my steps then.

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