‘s Lands Zeemagazijn

Amsterdam, Netherlands | C.1656

Photo Credit: Anne Danao

Appearing to be floating on water, ‘S Lands Zeemagazijn is a historic building dating from 1656. Originally utilized as an arsenal, the building is surrounded by water on two sides and is perched on an artificial island in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The historic Dutch Republic had five Admiralties, or sections of the navy. Together they were responsible for defending the Republic’s territory from threats by sea and for protecting the extensive merchant fleet. At the time, Amsterdam was the largest port and marketplace in the world.

The Admiralty of Amsterdam needed a national naval warehouse to hold their artillery. They commissioned Daniel Stalpaert to build a large storehouse to house all their materials. Upon opening the storehouse held cannons, sails, flags and sailing equipment stored for the war fleet. The vaulted cellars under the inner courtyard were used to store rainwater – some 40,000 liters – to provide drinking water for the ships.

A fire blazed through the building in 1791, leaving only the stone shell of the outer walls. The charred brickwork was covered with a layer of plaster leaving the appearance of stately blocks of sandstone.

When Napoleon entered the country and founded the Batavian Republic in 1795, the five Admiralties were abolished and replaced by a national navy, however the Arsenal became and remained a storehouse for the navy until the early 1970s.

From 2007-2011 the Arsenal saw new life after an extensive renovation to transform it into The National Maritime Museum. It now houses the best artifacts of an extensive collection of maritime memorabilia.

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