The brick city wall, ordained by Austrian emperor Maximilian the First and built between 1482 and 1502, had four main gates and a number of defensive towers. Maximilian was also duke of Holland and Zeeland, so Amsterdam was part of the Duchy of Burgundy. The brick wall ran around the entire city, except for the harbour front on the IJ, which was defended by palisades and the Rode Blokhuis (Red Block House), armed with multiple cannons.
The city wall needed a free field of fire to be defended, so there were severe restrictions to building outside of the walls — no permanent buildings were allowed. So while on the one hand the wall offered protection against attacks and pillaging from the Bishop of Utrecht and the Duke of Guelderland, it also hampered expansions and economic growth.
The Main Gates
The four main gates in this 15th and 16th century wall were named Haarlemmerpoort, Heiligewegspoort, Regulierspoort and Sint Antoniespoort. There were also four smaller gates: the Raampoort, Jan Roodenpoort, Korsjespoort and Waterpoort.
The Haarlemmerpoort marked the start of the road to Haarlem and was already the second city gate of that name, demolished in 1601.
The Heiligewegspoort (Sacred Road Gate) was just a tower with a gate below it. It was created to regulate the inflow of pilgrims after the Miracle of Amsterdam (1345). It stood where now the Koningsplein is. Originally it was a wooden gate, rebuilt in brick in 1637. It was demolished in 1664 and no traces of that gate can be found today.
The Regulierspoort (Regulars Gate) — named after the convent of the Canons Regular (Augustinians) outside the city walls — was built between 1480 and 1487. It had two towers and a gate between them. After the city expansion of 1585 it lost its function. Around 1615 it burned down — just one tower was left standing, which was added to later to become the Munttoren (Mint Tower), located at the current Muntplein.
The Sint Antoniespoort (Saint Anthony’s Gate) from 1488 is now called the Waag (Weigh House). It lost its gate function in 1614 and was then repurposed to be a weigh house and guilds headquarters. The guilds were disbanded in 1798 and in 1819 it was last used for weighing. Location is the Nieuwmarkt square.
The Sint Olofspoort (Saint Olof’s Gate) from around 1370 had lost its function after the city expansion in 1425. It was demolished in 1618. Nothing remains today of that gate, but the small alley where the gate stood (between Zeedijk and Warmoesstraat) is called Sint Olofspoort now (until 1917 the alley was called Oudezijds Wijde Kapelsteeg). A bit further south, between Zeedijk and Nieuwebrugsteeg is the Sint Olofssteeg (Saint Olof’s Alley).
The Sint Olofspoort was originally built across a canal. The guards had a gate house, now there is a bar at that spot, at the corner of Nieuwebrugsteeg 15. The gate house had two chutes in its wall, through which the guards dropped their garbage into the canal. An excavation in 1970 uncovered many artefacts there and provided insight into their diet. In the 15th century the canal was filled in and a chapel (Sint Olofskapel) was built next to the gate.
The Raampoort was an unassuming passage through the city wall, demolished in 1844, where the Bullebaksluis is now. The Jan Roodenpoort had a tower which was demolished in 1829 after several rebuilds, the outline of the foundation can be seen on the Torensluis bridge.
The Korsjespoort stood near the Blauwburgwal and was demolished during the city expansion in the 17th century. The Waterpoort was a wooden bridge across the Geldersekade, from the Waterpoortsteeg near the Zeedijk to the Lastage area. None of these gates remain today.
The Rondeel tower stood where now Hotel de l’Europe is located, the Swych Utrecht (Be Silent Utrecht) tower has now become the Doelen Hotel. The Montelbaanstoren and the Schreierstoren still exist, the Heilige Kruistoren (later called Haringpakkerstoren) has disappeared, demolished in 1829.
The Montelbaanstoren (Mount Albans Tower) was created as a protection for the newly created Lastage area. To protect this area outside the city walls, a canal was dug along the eastern side, the current Oude Schans (Old Rampart). The dirt was used to create a temporary earthen wall with palisades. The tower was constructed at the corner of Oude Schans and Oude Waal.