Sint Luciënsteeg, Amsterdam

Sint Luciënsteeg

The Sint Luciën­steeg (Saint Lucia Alley) is a narrow street which runs between the Kalver­straat and the Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal. On a small square next to the alley a remarkable shop and a large number of gable stones. At number 27 there is an entrance gate of the Amsterdam Museum, which used to be the Saint Lucia Convent (Sint Luciën­klooster) in the Middle Ages and the Burger­wees­huis (Citizen’s Orphanage) from 1579 onward.

View towards the girls entrance of the former Burgerweeshuis (now Amsterdam Museum), 2020

View from the Sint Luciën­steeg towards the girls entrance of the former Burger­wees­huis (now Amsterdam Museum).
On the left the Posthumus shop, on the right a part of the wall with the saved gable stones (2020).

Saved Gable Stones

Along one of the outer walls of the Amsterdam Museum you can see a kind of open air museum of gable stones, nicknamed the Gable Stone Museum.

Gable stones on the outer wall of the Amsterdam Museum, Sint Luciënsteeg, Amsterdam (2020)

These 47 stones were saved from demolished houses and attached to the wall here in the years 1924-1927, with extensive restoration in 2012-2013. Many stones have an interesting history. The initiative came from the Vereni­ging Vrienden van Amster­damse Gevel­stenen (VVAG, Society of Friends of Amsterdam Gable Stones). Website VVAG:

Saint Lucia Convent

In 1414 one Coptgin Ysebrandtsz donated a terrain next to the Begijn­hof to the sisters, who erected the convent here, the first of three convents on the New Side. A chapel and a graveyard followed in 1433. The current Sint Luciën­steeg (Saint Lucia Alley) was constructed in 1532, connecting the Kalver­straat with a bridge across the Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal. The remaining point of the convent terrain was given by the city to carpenter Jacob Jansz in 1536. The other side of the Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal was then named Boom­markt (Tree Market).

Former Saint Lucia Convent from 1414 in Amsterdam on a map by Cornelis Anthonisz from 1544

Under the lens the former Saint Lucia Convent from 1414, on a map by Cornelis Anthonisz from 1544.

The convent had a brewery and looms and they also rented out terrains and houses inside and outside the city. When Amsterdam was walled in by the end of the 15th century, the city was soon bursting at the seams with the growing population. By 1513 there were 21 convents in Amsterdam, taking up a lot of precious terrain in an over­crowded city.

Saint Lucia Convent in Amsterdam in 1544

The Sint Luciën­klooster (Saint Lucia Convent) in 1544. On the left the grounds of the Begijnhof.
On top the Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal (with the Boom­markt or Tree Market), below the Begijnen­sloot (both still water then).

Because convents were exempt from municipal and other taxes, they sold their surplus bread, beer and cloth way below the prices of the guilds. Many measures were taken to correct this, including a ban on gifts and heritages in 1480, which led to convent poverty. With the Protestant Alteration in 1578 the convents were expropriated and given new destinations.

Burgerweeshuis (Citizen’s Orphanage)

On March 31, 1579 the Saint Lucia Convent with all its properties was handed over to the regents of the Burger­wees­huis (Citizen’s Orphanage). There were at that time still 16 sisters in the convent (31 to 67 years old). Six sisters moved to houses in the St. Luciën­steeg which they owned. They were given pensions by the city for the rest of their lives, until in 1633 the last sister died.

The girls courtyard in the former Burgerweeshuis, Amsterdam (June 2020)

The girls court­yard in the former Burger­wees­huis (Citizen’s Orphanage) (June 2020).

The orphans, who had until then lived in the Kalver­straat near the Holy Stead Chapel, moved to the former convent in 1580. The Burger­weeshuis also received the terrain and belongings of the former Kartuizer­klooster (Carthusian Convent from 1394 in the current Jordaan, arsoned in 1572 by protesters) and the revenue of the Kapel ter Heilige Stede (Holy Stead Chapel).

The boys section of the former Burgerweeshuis, Amsterdam

The boys section of the former Burger­wees­huis (Citizen’s Orphanage) (June 2020).

In 1632-1635 it was heavily restructured, the Oude Mannen- en Vrouwen­huis (House for Old Men and Women) on the Kalver­straat added to the orphanage as the boys section. Each section now had their own court­yard with separate entrances, the girls on the Sint Luciën­steeg and the boys on the Kalver­straat.

Girls courtyard of the Burgerweeshuis, Amsterdam, painting by Nicolaas van der Waay

Girls court­yard of the Burger­weeshuis, painting by Nicolaas van der Waay from between 1875 and 1936.

The orphanage here lasted until 1966 when it moved to the IJsbaan­pad. After extensive restructuring from 1966 to 1975 the buildings became the Amsterdam Museum (then Amsterdam Historical Museum). The entire premises are a national monument.


At St. Luciën­steeg 23-25 you find the lovely shop of Posthumus from 1865, dealing in all kinds of high-quality stamps and lacquer stamps, hand engraving, embossing, old-fashioned writing equipment and more. They also carry beautiful stationary, cards and envelopes from an upscale Italian paper maker.

Posthumus shop window, Sint Luciënsteeg, Amsterdam, photo 1

Posthumus still sell all kinds of things which can’t be easily found elsewhere anymore, attracting visitors and online orders from all over the world. In 1920 they received the seal of Purveyor to the Court from Queen Wilhelmina (1880–1962). Nathalie and Peter Breurken took over the shop from Posthumus in 2005 and continue to uphold the quality craft­manship. The Posthumus factory (which has moved to the Sloter­dijk area) still supplies them.

Posthumus shop window, Sint Luciënsteeg, Amsterdam, photo 2

Many city businesses use their stamps, like Loetje (a steak house) for their tables, Holtkamp patissery for their chocolates and many hotel bars for stamping their ice cubes. Their customers are banks, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs and businesses at Schiphol Airport too.

Posthumus shop window, Sint Luciënsteeg, Amsterdam, photo 3

Website Posthumus:

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