/ The Amsterdam Guide
Amsterdam — By Marianne on June 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm
Filed under: things to see in Amsterdam

Amsterdam: Houses Wide and Narrow

When the Trip brothers moved into their newly-built mansion, their coachman grumbled that he would be happy with a house the size of their front door. He got what he wanted.

The coachman’s house, capped with two stone carved sphinxes was only 2.5 m (8.2 ft) wide. Reportedly, it was built with stones left over from the construction of the main building. The coachman’s modest house stands across the canal from his master’s house. This mansion is 22 m across (72 ft), and is the widest house in Amsterdam.

The wealthy Trip brothers, Louys and Hendrick, made their fortune in metals, artillery and ammunition. They controlled almost all Europe’s munitions supplies in the seventeenth century. In the Golden Age, Stadtholder and Church were no longer the leading authorities. A powerful clique of wealthy Amsterdam families, Trip brothers among them, shared power and almost ran the country.

This bourgeoisie domination found expression in lavish buildings, such as the Trippenhuis. Only affluent and privileged Amsterdammers were able to build such large and opulent mansions. To solve the problem of the seventeenth-century housing shortage, building plots were limited to 9 m (30ft) across. Residents paid tax according to the width of their houses. The Trip brothers allocated themselves two adjacent plots, paying tax was peanuts for them. They commissioned Justus Vingboom, the most talented architect involved in designing canal houses.

The Trippenhuis was completed in 1662 and was shared by both Trip brothers and their families. Although the house appeared to be one home, in fact it included two. False windows feature in the middle of the façade. Corinthian pilasters and an imposing frieze reflect the brothers’ status. In acknowledgement of their gunnery business, the chimneys resemble cannons and military insignia pepper the gun-powder grey exterior.

In the early nineteenth century the mansion was converted into one unit. It was home to Amsterdam’s art collection until 1885, when the works of art found a home in the newly built Rijksmuseum. Today Trippenhuis is the seat of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschap,the Dutch Academy of Science. The house is open to the public only on Open Monumentendag, Heritage Days, second weekend each September.


Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29 (map)
Coachman’s House or Little Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 26

WHAT: Open Monumentendag
WHEN: 11 and 12 September 2010
Open Monumentendag (Heritage Days) marks an annual events during which monuments normally closed to the public open their doors, not only in Amsterdam but in the whole country and the rest of Europe.

Photo credits:
Klein Trippenhuis personal collection
Groot Trippenhuis courtesy courtesy of KNAW

Related places:
  1. A
    Sticht. tot steun Neth. Acad. of Technology and Innovation
    Kloveniersburgwal 29, Amsterdam, , Netherlands
    View Details and Book
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