Early Architecture in the Netherlands


One of the oldest preserved buildings in the Netherlands is the western front of Sta. St. Mary’s Church in Maastricht and Valkhof Chapel in Nijmegen (built after the example of Karl the Great’s chapel in Aachen), both dating from the 11th century and held in Carolingian style. Among the best-preserved examples of Romanesque architecture is St. Peter’s Church in Utrecht (c. 1050) and the impressive monastery church in Susteren (c. 1060). An example of Romanesque architecture is also the Monastery of Roermond, begun as late as 1220. The Gothic style was only accepted late in the Netherlands. The first buildings are the Cathedral of Utrecht (begun in 1253). The majority of the Gothic period churches are relatively simple basilicas. Some hall churches were also built. Special features of the Dutch gothic are the decorative use of bricks and the richly designed western fronts.

Among the oldest examples of Dutch profane architecture are the circular castles in i.a. Leiden, Egmond and Teilingen (from the 11th and 11th centuries). The most prominent single building is the hall in the Binnenhof in The Hague, built in the second half of the 13th century. Characteristic of the late medieval profane architecture are some richly designed town halls which also give an expression of the importance of the cities during the period, including the Town Hall of Middelburg (1452).

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam. The building was originally built as a town hall (1647-65) and was designed by Jacob van Campen.


The first examples of Renaissance architecture were erected by Italian builders. The town halls of Nijmegen and The Hague, both from the latter half of the 16th century, show how the Renaissance motifs were incorporated into the domestic building tradition and characterized by the use of bricks and decorative elements of carved sandstone. Among the most prominent expressions of this Dutch Renaissance architecture are the meat hall (1601–05) and the tower of Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem (1613) by architect Lieven de Key and Hendrik de Keyser church buildings in Amsterdam (including Westerkerk, 1620–38), which also had an impact on Nordic architecture.

The leading Dutch architect

The leading Dutch architect in the 1600s was Jacob van Campen (1595–1657). The Mauritshuis in The Hague was built 1633–36 for John Maurits by Nassau-Siegen, in the classic style with frontispiece and colossal pilasters. Still, the house is Dutch in size, considering that it should be a princely palace, and by the smooth brick walls.


It was also in the first half of the 1600s that a classicist tendency prevailed in Dutch architecture. can be seen in the stately Mauritshuis in The Hague (1633–35), Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem (1645–49) and the former Amsterdam City Hall (1647–65), now the Royal Palace, all by the architect Jacob van Campen. In the second half of the 17th century, the influence of French classicism became strong. Foremost examples are the castle Het Loo for William 3 (c. 1687-1702), designed by architects Jacob Roman and Daniel Marot, and the current royal library in The Hague (1734–37) by Marot. Towards the end of the 18th century, neoclassicism won its way. A key example is Sta. Rosaliakirken in Rotterdam (1777–79). The first part of the 19th century was characterized by a Greek-influenced classicism, e.g. the pavilion in Scheveningen (1826) and the courthouse in Leeuwarden (1846).

Nygotics and historicalism

Around 1840, the New Gothic made its entry with, among other things, the Catholic Church in Harmelen (1838) and the riding school in The Hague (1845). Dutch historicalism in the second half of the 19th century includes The Rijksmuseum (1876–85) and the Amsterdam railway station (1885–89) by the architect Petrus JH Cuypers.