Prague, Czech Republic
A hot-pink confection of Bohemian Neo-Renaissance style, the Hotel Opera stands in the less touristy Nové Město, or “New Town,” quarter of storied Prague.
The prestigious Amstel Hotel, formally known as The InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam Hotel, is the vision of Samuel Sarphati, a 19th century physician whose influence in the city goes well beyond medicine. In addition to his work as a doctor, Sarphati made major strides in public health through his work in politics and city planning.
Born into a middle-class family with Spanish and Portuguese Jewish heritage, Sarphati attended a Latin school and then studied medicine. As a practicing physician in Amsterdam, he was concerned about the poor hygiene conditions suffered by the poor. In response, he initiated many projects to help improve quality of life in the city including building a bread factory and creating a trash collection service.
In 1847, Sarphati became involved in politics as a project developer in city planning and The Amstel Hotel was his passion project to usher Amsterdam into a new era of architectural sophistication. He commissioned architect Cornelis Outshoorn to design the building along the banks of the Amstel River.
Sarphati sought to create a large, magnificent hotel in a “U” shape with large wings, but they were never built. Due to financial constraints, the Hotel was completed during its first stage of construction. A relatively small hotel, it only had 111 rooms. Sadly, Sarphati never saw his vision come to fruition as he died the year before the Hotel was opened.
In 1992, the Hotel underwent a full restoration, its facade was then renovated and restored to its original color scheme. While studying the original plans, architects discovered that lion statues throughout the Hotel had disappeared. Reproductions of the beloved lions have since been added, now know as the Amstel lions.
Written By: Kelly Murray
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