The Makelaers Comptoir (brokers’ office) from the 17th century is located at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 75, at the corner of the Nieuwe Nieuwstraat. It is one of the few remaining guildhalls in Amsterdam. The building underwent renovations in 1739, 1836, 1937 and 2003. A national monument since 1970, it is not open to the public, but rented out occasionally for small events.
Constructed in 1633-1634 as a guildhall for the Brokers’ Guild (founded in 1612), the guild has been the sole owner of the building until 2002, when it was sold to the historic preservation society Hendrick de Keyser for the symbolic sum of 1 Euro.
Brokers were intermediaries between buyers and sellers trading in coffee, tobacco, grain, cocoa and other goods. They were well respected and trusted in the 17th century: they had the right to weigh gold and silver and to ascertain the value of it. Inside the front house is a checkered marble floor and a fireplace with a mantelpiece from 1760 — the coats of arms of the guild directors adorn the walls. A carved and gilded rose on a ceiling beam in the main room meant that everything discussed in the room was to remain sub rosa (under the rose, confidential).
Although the whole guilds structure was officially disbanded during the French period (the Bataafse Republiek, 1795–1806), the Brokers’ Guild continued well into the 20th century in a changed form. Where most guilds had their assets confiscated by the government, the Amsterdam Brokers’ Guild was an exception: although they lost many official privileges, they continued as an association to administer the assets of the former guild.
Saint Gertrude’s Convent
The terrain between the Suikerbakkerssteeg and the St. Geertruidensteeg on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal was once occupied by St. Gertrude’s Convent. Probably from around 1416, the convent remained relatively small, being located in the expensive Northwestern quarter of the city, close to the harbour. It was one of the few women’s convents to engage in manuscript copying. Most nuns came from important families and were well educated.
The convent bordered on the east side on the Onze Lieve Vrouwegasthuis (hospital), which led to years of quarreling about the right-of-way. In 1432 a covenant was reached which regulated a path across the convent terrain reserved for the hospital. The path was about 2m wide (6.5ft) and is now called the Suikerbakkerssteeg, after a sugarbakery which was established in the chapel when the convent was dissolved in 1585. After the Alteration in 1578 the convent terrain was emptied to construct the Nieuwe Nieuwstraat.
Kasteel van Aemstel
The adjacent building, at number 72, has nothing to do with the castle of the Lords of Aemstel, despite the fancy name. Constructed in 1904-1905 in a sober Art Nouveau style, it was the headquarters of printing house De Tijd, from 1845 until 1974 a Dutch catholic newspaper, later continued as a magazine. The tiles on the gable depict instances from the life of Gijsbrecht van Aemstel, designed by Theo Molkenboer. Today it houses the INK Hotel MGallery.
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