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  • Writer's pictureWill von Behr, MA

A Brief History of Munttoren in Amsterdam

What is Munttoren?

Munttoren is a Medieval tower in Amsterdam that once formed part of a city gate.

Munttoren view from Canal

The Munttoren: An Iconic Landmark in Amsterdam

One of the most iconic landmarks in the bustling city of Amsterdam is the Munttoren, or Mint Tower, which stands tall overlooking the busy Muntplein square. This medieval structure has a rich and fascinating history dating back to the 15th century. In this article, we will delve into the origins of the Munttoren, its architectural style, and the significant events that have shaped its story.

Origins of the Munttoren

The Munttoren was originally part of the Regulierspoort, one of the main gates in Amsterdam's medieval city wall, which was constructed around 1480. The gate comprised two towers, a central passageway, and a guard house. However, a devastating fire in 1618 left only the guard house and part of the western tower standing.

Reconstruction and Architectural Style

Following the 1618 fire, the tower was rebuilt in the Amsterdam Renaissance style in 1620. The new design featured an eight-sided top half and an elegant open spire, which was the work of renowned architect and sculptor Hendrick de Keyser. De Keyser's other notable works include the Westerkerk and Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam.

The new Munttoren was also equipped with a clockwork mechanism boasting four clock faces and a carillon of bells, which remain an integral part of the tower's charm.

The Origin of the Name

The tower's name, Munttoren, is derived from its connection to the minting of coins in the 17th century. During the "Rampjaar" (year of disaster) in 1672, both England and France declared war on the Dutch Republic, and French troops occupied much of the country. As a result, silver and gold could no longer be safely transported to Dordrecht and Enkhuizen, where coins were typically minted.

To address this issue, the guard house of the Munttoren was temporarily used for minting coins, giving the tower its present-day name.

The Guard House: A 19th-century Addition

The current guard house adjacent to the Munttoren is not the original medieval structure that survived the 1618 fire. Instead, it was replaced with a new building constructed between 1885 and 1887 in the Neo-Renaissance style. The architect responsible for this new design was Willem Springer.

During a renovation in 1938-1939, an underpass was created between the tower and the guard house, further modifying the structure.

Preserving the Munttoren

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve the Munttoren and prevent it from sagging or collapsing. During the construction of the Noord/Zuidlijn, a new metro line in Amsterdam, the city allocated 1.9 million euros to provide extra foundations for the tower, as reported by the newspaper Het Parool on May 17, 2006.

A Timeless Symbol of Amsterdam's Resilience and History

The Munttoren is a testament to Amsterdam's rich history and architectural prowess. From its origins as part of the city's medieval walls to its reconstruction after a devastating fire and its role in minting coins during times of war, the Munttoren has endured the test of time. Today, it stands as a proud symbol of the city's resilience and adaptability, offering visitors a glimpse into Amsterdam's storied past.

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