Todd van Hulzen has always been a big fan of the Amsterdam architect Hendrick de Keyser. De Keyser was city’s master architect in the first half of the 17th century and is responsible for many distinctive buildings and beloved landmarks, including the Munttoren (at least the upper part), the Montelbaanstoren (as well), the Zuiderkerk, the Westerkerk and the Noorderkerk. But unfortunately there are a large number of buildings by his hand that were demolished in the 19th century when the municipal money-box was practically empty and the centuries-old buildings had fallen into a deep decline. This might have something to do with the plundering by their former French masters and the loss of colonies. It was considered a great loss in 1829, the buildings were measured fairly accurately in the hope of ever rebuilding them and elegiac poems were written in their honor.
“I’ll be pierced by ruinous power
As nothing tames the brutal might,
And like the Herring Packers tower
Who still tolls in my ear its plight,
My belfry and spire will no longer call,
my brilliance will lose all her renown,
For in me another pearl shall fall
Oh, Amsterdam! from Your crown! “
The Jan Roodenpoortstoren was a 55 meter high tower dating from 1617. It was built over the Torensluis bridge on the Singel and demolished in 1829. The classically inspired spire with obelisks and clocktower by De Keyser was built on top of a 15th century defensive tower from the old city wall. The tower was used regularly as a prison and a guard post for the city militia.
The Haringpakkerstoren (Herring Packers’ Tower) was built over the foundations of the Kruistoren (Holy Cross Tower), part of the fortifications on the harbor adjoining the medieval Haarlemmerpoort. The 45 meter high sculptural tower was built by De Keyser in 1606 and demolished in 1929 due to dangerous subsiding. It functioned, among other things, as an office for various craft guilds as well as a shipping pilots’ post.
The Mercantile Stock Exchange of 1611 was built over the Rokin, which had been vaulted over for the purpose in the time that it was still possible to punt a barge through to the Damrak. It had a 40 meters high bell tower and carillon that had to clear the way for expansion in 1668. Here the world’s first ever stocks and bonds traded hands (VOC of course) and it could thus be described the cradle of the modern economy. The rest of the building was demolished in 1835 and the top of the Rokin was filled in. Today there is no memento of this illustrious colossus at the location.
The 4th Haarlemmerpoort gate was built in 1615 at the edge of the Haarlemmerplein during Amsterdam’s Third Expansion. The monumental outer gate was erected in blue hardstone and the whole was crowned by an ornate tower. It was demolished in 1837.