At Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2-14 is the iconic hotel De L’Europe from 1896, where the Amstel river flows into the Rokin. This five-star hotel, overlooking the Binnen-Amstel and Munt, was designed by architect Willem Hamer (1843-1913) in Neo-Renaissance style (Hamer also designed the Vondelpark pavilion). It has been a national monument since 2001. The building was restructured and expanded many times. Restoration and remodeling in 1987 restored the historic sculptures on the front.
Nieuwe Doelenstraat numbers 6 and 8 were added to the hotel in 1988, followed by numbers 10, 12 and 14 in 2006. A new wing was added in 2023. Freddy’s Bar (the hotel bar) was named after the beer magnate, the late Alfred (Freddy) Heineken, who loved to come here. He had purchased the building as a gift for his wife in 1950 — it is now owned by his daughter, Charlene de Carvalho. Fumoir, their indoor Cigar Lounge, offers a fine selection of Caribbean cigars, provided by Hajenius Cigars on Rokin. Since 1896 the hotel had been called Hotel de l’Europe, but in 2011 they changed their name to De L’Europe Amsterdam.
Since 1995 De L’Europe also manages the Amsterdam Academic Club, for professors of the University of Amsterdam. This small building from 1875, under the clock at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 235-237, once housed the waiting rooms of the inner city hospital, the Binnengasthuis.
Many small statues and ornaments on the façade of the hotel are worth a closer look. On the side of the Binnen-Amstel facing Muntplein, between the windows on the third floor, you can see small statues of kneeling persons in medieval clothing. On the side of the Nieuwe Doelenstraat, left of the entrance, above the shield of the Honorary Consulate of Monaco and above the window, an ornamental panel.
Above the three windows on the ground floor, to the right of the entrance, three birds with spread wings (a peacock, a chicken with chicks and an eagle). A small bird decorates the corbel, probably a sparrowhawk.
Below the balconies on the first floor the corbels have statues of a dog, monkey and cat, between them ducks with spread wings. To the left of the dog statue, above the first floor window, a spider flanked by two stylized birds with spread wings (probably ibis or maybe stylized raven). Above the entrance to Freddy’s an owl and a parrot, a duck with spread wings in the center, above the first floor balcony a stork.
Some of the statues are repeated on the side facing Muntplein. The stork statue is repeated on the corner of the Muntplein side and the back of the building. The covered entrance and the reception date from 1910.
De L’Europe has a selection of fine restaurants, like Flore and Brasserie Marie. There’s a lovely terrace right on the water of the Amstel. The new wing from 2023, called ‘t Huys (The House) houses Trattoria Graziella.
Where the hotel is now, defense structure the Rondeel from 1535 was located, as part of the brick city wall. Amsterdam had started to build this wall around 1482, ordained by Habsburg Emperor Maximilian of Austria (1459–1519), in order to protect the city from possible attacks by the powerful Bishop of Utrecht. Maximilian’s wife had inherited the Burgundian domains in France and the Low Countries in 1477.
The Rondeel controlled the river entrance to the city, its guns protecting the bend. The wall continued from here to the Swych Utrecht tower, now Doelen hotel. The Rondeel (a half-round bastion tower) was around 12 m (40 ft) in diameter and had 1.2 m (4 ft) thick walls — it was used as a storage for artillery and guns, the home of the city artillery master right behind it.
Above the Rondeel in the painting you can see the old Regulierspoort (Regulars Gate), now Munttoren. Below it the tower Swych Utrecht (Shut Up Utrecht), now the location of the Doelen Hotel. In between the two is a small watchtower called Leeuwenburg, which stood at the corner of the Rokin, united with the gate by a wall. This watchtower burned down in 1618 together with parts of the gate and the houses in between.
The fortification lost its defensive function when the area between Singel and Herengracht was added to the city in 1593, the bastion was sold and then demolished in 1633. On the Fragments building in the Rijksmuseum gardens you can see a gable stone taken from the old Rondeel bastion. The Nieuwe Doelenstraat was cleared and filled with new houses, the wooden Roobrug replaced with the brick Doelensluis bridge in 1633. In 1638 an inn called Hotel Rondeel was created on the corner, partly on the foundations of the old bastion. It was expanded in 1652 and 1882. After several renovations and owners, that inn was demolished in 1895 and the Hotel de l’Europe was constructed in its place.
Right in front of the hotel, on the wide bridge which now forms the Muntplein, the bronze statue from 1948 of Fortuna (Lady Luck), holding a sail and standing on a globe, by city sculptor Hildo Krop (1884-1970), the last bridge statue made by him. The statue is now placed on the wall of the Muntplein near the Amstel, but this is actually its third location.
From 1948 until June 1972 it stood at Rokin on the wall near Langebrugsteeg, where now the statue of Queen Wilhelmina on horseback is. It was then moved to Muntplein right next to the Munttoren, where it had a beautiful granite base with snake and dolphins. The base is still there on the bridge, behind the ugly stall. After being stolen and recovered in 1989, it was moved to its current spot on the Amstel bank.
Website De L’Europe Amsterdam: https://www.deleurope.com/
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