Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Amsterdam art nouveau

The American Hotel

Amsterdam isn't generally seen as a major centre for art nouveau, but in fact it has some absolute gems scattered about the compact city centre. I concocted this walk based on internet research and some buildings we had already read about or stumbled on.

We started in the south-west at the remarkable American Hotel of 1902 designed by Willem Kromhout. The side wall has some lovely decorations and the cafe has very pleasant art deco lighting and other details together with stained glass.

We followed Leidesstraat towards the centre and on the corner of the junction with Herengracht there is this building of 1904, now a very large branch of Boss.

The decoration under the eaves is delightful.

We turned left and followed Herengracht north. Three bridges later we saw on the opposite bank this jolly house of 1900 by Gerrit van Arkel on the corner of Gasthuismolensteeg.

Two bridges further on we turned left onto Leliegracht and found on the corner where it meets Keizersgracht (174-176) the Astoria building, once the headquarters of the Eeerstholland Hollandsche Levensverzekerings Bank, of 1904-5. (The spire of the Westerkerk can be seen in the background).

We carried on to Prinsengracht and turned right passing a house with some colourful tiles at 181 on the opposite bank, somewhat spoiled by graffiti.

At the end of Prinsengracht, left onto Brouwersgracht and then right brought us to the end of Haarlemmerdijk . The Movies theatre at 161 was closed, but apparently has a nice art deco interior. We enjoyed 140 which seemed new - either a reconstruction or perhaps a new creation.

A house nearby had some lovely tiles on the side wall of its porch.

At 43 Haarlemmerdijk there was a shop with beautiful windows and exterior windows. 

And at 39 this simply fantastic shop facade, which has been well restored. 

Continuing into Haarlemmersttrasse, 83 (now a Steakhouse) has a more austere curving front, more suggestive of Nancy. It dates from 1906.

At 51 the one-time shop of J J F Mollmann had a date of 1736 and beautiful tiles especially under the circular windows. Presumably the facade was given an art nouveau makeover.

There was a bit of a hiatus while we turned right and continued into Spuistraat. At number 274 there was the former Stahle bakery, happily still selling croissants.This is another work by van Arkel and dates from 1898.

At bit further on, we turned left into Spui to find the Helios building (1895-6), by van Arkel again, incongruously located opposite the Beguinhof, and now occupied by a Japanese restaurant.

The second floor has a lovely tiled design of owls and flowers.

Overall, some nice buildings with a preponderance of shops and offices.

Conditions: sometimes bright, sometimes cloudy.

Distance: about three miles.

Rating: four stars.

More information

Two sections of Klaas Schoof's website (in Dutch unfortunately) were very helpful and include many things I missed:


It's not art nouveau and not very close to the route, but I just wanted to mention the Tuschinski cinema in Amstel. It was built in 1923 and has a rich art deco interior which you can take a tour round, before I think 11.30 in the morning. I have to say that from the outside this is one of the most bonkers buildings I have ever seen, but you've just got to love it.

This becomes clearer when you see the facade in more detail.

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