Amsterdam City Gates in 1544

Amsterdam City Gates in 1544

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.

Map from 1544 by Cornelis Anthonisz showing churches and convents in Amsterdam within the walled in city

Map from 1544 by Cornelis Anthonisz showing churches and convents in Amsterdam within the walled in city, which also provides a good overview of the gates and towers (the names of the gates and towers have been added by me for clarity).
The small drawing in the bottom right corner shows the Galgenveld (Gallows Field) across the IJ in the northern part of the city, where corpses of hung criminals where left hanging in the open air, partly as an “educational” tool.

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.

Heiligewegspoort, Amsterdam, in 1653, painting by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten

Heilige­wegs­poort (Sacred Road Gate) in 1653, seen from the Heren­gracht side, painting by Jan Abrahamsz Beer­straaten.

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.

Engraving of the old Regulierspoort, Amsterdam

Reguliers­poort, burned down around 1615. The remaining tower is now the Munt­toren (Mint Tower) at 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 Waag, former Saint Anthony's Gate, on Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam

The Waag, the former Saint Anthony’s Gate, on the Nieuwmarkt square (June 2020).

Vanished Gates

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).

Sint Olofspoort street sign, Amsterdam

Sint Olofspoort street sign (August 2021).

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.

Sint Olofspoort, seen towards Nieuwebrugsteeg and Warmoesstraat, Amsterdam

Sint Olofspoort, seen towards Nieuwe­brug­steeg and Warmoes­straat (August 2021).

Sint Olofssteeg seen towards Nieuwebrugsteeg, Amsterdam

Sint Olofssteeg seen towards Nieuwe­brug­steeg (August 2021).

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.

Jan Roodenpoort, Amsterdam, in 1544

Jan Roodenpoort in 1544.

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 Towers

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.

Montelbaanstoren on OudeSchans, Amsterdam

Montelbaanstoren on Oude Schans (January 2020).

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.