/ The Amsterdam Guide
Amsterdam — By Marianne on December 22, 2009 at 10:53 am

Beurs van Berlage, More Than Just a Pile of Bricks

When walking down Damrak from Centraal Station to Dam Square, you pass a wine-red brick building, not very elegant, not very inspiring. The building is the Beurs van Berlage. Built on reclaimed land, supported by wooden fundation piles that started to rot, the Beurs was saved from demolition in 1970. It is now a listed building and safeguarded for the future.

The Beurs van Berlage, The Berlage Exchange, was designed by and named after H.P. Berlage, the father of modern Dutch architecture. Inspired by the Romanesque and Renaissance building styles, he favoured simplicity and rational use of materials.

Square Tower and Beurs van Berlage

Square Tower and Beurs van Berlage

The Beurs van Berlage was completed in 1903. The building’s most striking element is the square clock tower, a stark contrast to the Nouveau designs of early 20th century.

Take your time to discover unexpected details both inside and out. Amble through the echoing, high-ceilinged halls whose interior are a mix of wine-red brickwork, shallow-arched arcades and stone pillars. Look up at the globe-shaped lights hanging from the steel roof girders. Admire the wall friezes celebrating workers and artisans who built the Beurs.

The large central hall used to be the Commodities Exchange where sugar, coffee and tea were traded – colonial merchandise from the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. When the new Effectenbeurs, Stock Exchange, was built across the street in 1913, traders moved out and the Beurs lost its commercial function.

Today the Beurs van Berlage holds a conference centre, concert halls, an exhibition space and a café-restaurant. The exhibition space displays rotating exhibitions of modern art and design that are too large to be shown in the regular museums. If you want to taste fifty different varieties of dark, slightly sweet beer, join the three-day Bock Beer Festival held in the Beurs van Berlage every October.

Cafe Beurs van Berlage

Cafe Beurs van Berlage

If there are no exhibitions or concerts, The Beurs van Berlage Café is open daily. Sit back, enjoy your cappuccino or Heineken and take in the architectural details, including murals representing past, present and future.

WHAT: Beurs van Berlage
WHERE: Damrak 277, Amsterdam
Entrance is under the clock tower next to the bicycle parking space.

CAFE: Entrance at Beursplein
Open: Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 18.00, Sunday 11.00 – 18.00

photo credits: personal collection

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