Leliegracht 22 is now a book shop
At Leliegracht 22 Casparus van Houten started the production of chocolate in 1815.
The mill, which was used to crush cacao beans, was run by men, who ran in circles.
At that time there were many chocolate factories. Some of them still exist, others can only be found by name in old recipes.
Van Houten later moved to Weesp, Bensdorp, another chocolate factory, moved to Bussum.
In 1749 Bicker Raye wrote about a problem that emerged between the reformed and a Mennonite preacher:
‘June 2nd some simple people wanted to rob the gentleman Deknatels house. He is the preacher of the Mennonite congregtion at Leliegracht.
The reason is, so people say, that he allows the congregation of the Moravian church to worship in his house. It got to the point, where four companies of citizens had to take up arms to ward off the simple slang.’
Deknatel helped the members of the Moravian church in their efforts to set up a branch in Suriname. He is said to have incurred ‘the simple peoples’ anger by shouting: ‘They think that God is not a god, but they do it on an island.’
Prinsenstraat and Herenstraat, which are extensions of each other, cross the three major canals and end at Blauwburgwal, a short canal that was already dug during the canal expansion in 1585.
The origin of the name Blauwburgwal is not certain.
Some believe that it stems from the unusual blue color of the wooden bridge. At that time all the other bridges of Amsterdam were painted red.
Others think that the name comes from the blue dyers, who lived in the area and only were allowed to practice their profession in the outskirts of, what was inhabited area at that time.
At the next urban development in 1612 this provision was not followed consistently though, and it was only in 1648 that the dyers had to move to the area east of Palmgracht.
A third possibility is that the canals name comes from the blue mill which stood next to the canal.
The only bombs that hit the old part of town during the Second World War fell here, next to the canal. Some of the houses were destroyed by bombs dropped from a German plane that had been hit by gunfire.
Singels eastern shore and Blauwburgwal were the places, where the boats to and from Rouaan and St. Valery in France and to and from London loaded and unloaded their cargo.
The gable stone of this house shows a cargo ship under full sail (Ano 1754) with three men on board handling the sails and rudder.
In one of the houses in the block between Single and Langestraat lived one of Rembrandts granddaughters, who in 1686 married a jeweler at Blauwburgwal.
Houses at the corner Brouwersgracht – Prinsengracht
The tree major canals are crisscrossed by four cross canals and a large number of streets. One canal, which predates the major canal expansion, is Brouwersgracht.
It was dug between Singel and the already existing narrow Herengracht in 1585 and was only dug all the way through to Lijnbaansgracht plaats after the big canal expansion had begun.
Melkmeisjes brug over Brouwersgracht
The canal still has many old buildings, often warehouses, which in recent years have been converted into living quarters.
The open shutters in bright colors remind of the olden days.
Here there are no palace-like buildings as along the three large canals, but there are also houses with beautiful gables and gable stones and other kinds of decoration.
The name Brouwersgracht tells us that beer brewery was an important activity along this canal.
House number 1131 is the last one on Prinsengracht, but on the other side of the River Amstel the canal goes on a little further until Plantage Muidergracht and is here called Nieuwe Prinsengracht.
One way to get there is to turn right and walk to Kerkstraat.
Between Kerkstraat and Nieuwe Kerkstraat on the other side you find Magere Brug, which is the most photographed of all Amsterdam’s bridges. It dates from the 17th century and got its name because it was so narrow that two pedestrians, who met on the bridge, barely could pass each other. The bridge has been widened since.
In the beginning of the 20th century there were plans to demolish the bridge and replace it with a modern one, but in the end the city decided to just build a copy of the old one.
Amsterdam’s canal ring has only three squares with churches: Noordermarkt, Westermarkt and Amstelveld.
Originally the plan was to build churches from stones in the squares, and here at Amstelveld there was supposed to be a church for the reformed inhabitants.
This church was never build though, but because the inhabitants kept pushing, a temporary wooden church was raised in 1668. People soon started calling it the preaching shed.
Well over 300 years later the temporary church is still holding its ground.
Today it houses Amsterdam’s association for urban renewal, but on Sundays it’s still used as a church.
On other days of the week the preaching shed is a sought venue for concerts, exhibitions and parties.
In olden days it was used for other purposes.
In 1787 this was the quarter for the Dutch guard on horseback. And in the French time, when Napoleon needed soldiers because of his many wars, they drew lots about who had to serve in the army here in this church.
On Amstelveld there was for many years a famous market with a varied selection on Mondays. Today the Monday market has been replaced by a plant and flower market.
The house Prinsengracht 855 – 899 is there because Agneta Deutz and her son Jan Meerman had become enemies.
During her life she had given birth to 10 children of whom only this one son survived, and he wished the worst things for his mother and ‘that she would go to hell and burn’.
The relation between those two caused her to leave the biggest part of her fortune to charity including a foundation for the construction and maintenance of a home for reformed single, elderly women.
Construction began two years after her death in 1692 and was completed in 1695.
The text above the entrance tells in poem form about the reason why this house was built
Prinsengracht 504 – 506
Not my picture
In this house the Italian violin player and composer Pietro Antonio Locatelle lived from 1742 and till he died in 1764. A commemorative stone on the gable still reminds about the musician.
Until 1849 this address was a beer brewery. After that it was an industrial bakery and behind the new gable many of the bakery’s rooms are still preserved.
Today this is the event center Cristofori, named after Bartolommeo Cristofori, who in 1709 invented the pianoforte. In this house there are held concerts and people are celebrating their weddings and other big occasions, and TV shows are made her.
The Catholic Church ‘De Duif’
The Catholic Church Prinsengracht 754 was the first Catholic Church that was built in Amsterdam after a new law in 1795 had given the people the freedom to worship.
It was built to replace the secret church ’Hed Vrededuifje’ (the peace dove) at Kerkstraat 167 from 1671. In commemoration of this secret church the new church was called ’De Duif (the dove)’.
The new church wasn’t built strong enough though, and it was demolished in 1850.
The first stone of the present church in baroque and classical style was laid in 1857
For 70 years the church was in danger of getting closed, but numerous protests from Amsterdam’s inhabitants saved it. The church was even squatted in the seventies, and only in 1995 the Duif-parish became co-owner of the building.
Today almost the entire stretch between Leidsegracht and Leidsestraat, Prinsengracht 436 – 438, is Amsterdam’s palace of justice.
It was first taken in use in 1836 but was built in 1829. Before that here stood an orphanage, which was built in 1666.
This orphanage was divided into a girls and a boys department with each its own pediment / tympanum on the facade.
20 years after the orphanage opened there lived 1300 children in it!
In 1743 Bicker Raye wrote, that he during a walk along the orphanage had seen a little boy, who had been left at the door. A small letter stated that the boy had been left there out of despair, and that he had been baptized in the Westerkerk.
Bicker Raye had heard the children in the orphanage sing a song about: ”Now we have one more little brother”.
The fact that girls and boys were separated apparently wasn’t enough, because in 1752 Bicker Raye told that 13 girls had become pregnant and therefore had been sent to the prison for women.
The guilty boys had been sent to the Far East at first opportunity.
In 1766 the orphanage celebrated its 100 years of existence, and Bicker Raye tells us, that the rulers and their wives on this occasion had a superb meal. And even the children were fed well that day.
In the modern palace of justice parts of the former orphanage are still preserved.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries something called doolhoven played a major role in the evening- and night life of the cities.
At Prinsengracht 336-340 there was such a doolhof, where people could find music, beer and pictures made out of wax.
The purpose of these wax figures was to attract and entertain guests.
Most of those wax figures didn’t survive, but a Goliath and a David figure still exist and can be admired in the restaurant at the Amsterdam Historical Museum.
For some reason my picture of Prinsengracht 336 – 340 has disappeared, but if you use the link below, you’ll find googles street view of the place.
Part of the Pulitzer Hotel
Between Westermarkt and Reestraat, at Prinsengracht 315-331 you find the Pulitzer Hotel. It’s a chain of about 30 contiguous properties and is one of Amsterdam’s most original hotels.
Large parts of the houses original furnishings have been preserved, but the rooms are equipped with all modern facilities.
Since the 17th century people made mustard here, colored yarn, seethed soap, baked cakes and exercised many other crafts, and today the guests of the Pulitzer hotel are sleeping here.
Have you ever seen the movie Ocean 12? In that movie the gang is staying in the Pulitzer Hotel and the hotel is shown.