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  • Writer's pictureMoorea Hall-Aquitania, MA

A Brief History of Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam

What is Rembrandtplein?

Rembrandtplein is a pleasant public square in Amsterdam that is named after the Netherlands’ most celebrated artist.


Rembrandtplein History

The Rembrandtplein is one of the busiest squares in Amsterdam and the place to go for nightlife. Originally a butter and dairy market, it’s now much better known as a venue for cocktails and the music to be heard flowing out of the many clubs around the square. During the day, it’s a popular spot to sip a latte on one of the terraces and people-watch.

The square was once part of the medieval city walls – the Rembrandtplein was the location of the Regulierspoort city gate. By the 1650s, when the city had expanded beyond this area, it had become a place for farmers to sell their dairy and poultry and was known as the Botermarkt (or Butter Market). In 1668, the Regulierspoort, in the same way as nearby Saint Anthony’s Gate on the Nieuwmarkt, became a weigh house. The area continued to be called the Botermarkt until 1876, when a cast-iron statue of the artist Rembrandt by sculptor Louis Royer was placed in the centre and the open space was re-christened Rembrandtplein (or Rembrandt Square).

Today, the figure of the artist in his hat and cape gazes calmly out over the bustling scene, and the plinth bears a facsimile of his famous signature. In 2006, as part of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the artist’s birth, a group of bronze statues of figures from The Night Watch (one of his most famous paintings) were cast by Russian artists Mikhail Dronov and Alexander Taratynov. The life-sized statues were arranged according to their position in the famous 17th-century painting, giving viewers an enhanced appreciation of the depth and realism that Rembrandt was able to achieve in his work. The sculptures were displayed on the Rembrandtplein for three years before embarking on a world tour, including visits to New York City and Moscow.

Just a stone’s throw from the Rembrandtplein, you’ll find the famous Pathé Tuschinski movie theatre. Founded by Abraham Tuschinski and his brothers-in-law, construction on the building began in 1919. Tuschinski already owned four such venues in Rotterdam, but his dream was to create a new masterpiece decorated in a mixture of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Amsterdam School styles. During the Second World War, Tuschinski lost all four of his Rotterdam properties in the bombing of 1940. The Amsterdam theatre survived but was taken over by a German film company and renamed, and Tuschinski was tragically murdered by the Nazis. After Dutch liberation, the name of the theatre was restored, and in 1967 it was declared a national monument.

However, nightlife on the Rembrandtplein offers far more than an evening at the movies. The entire square and many side streets are filled with restaurants, bars, coffee shops and night clubs. Merrymakers can pass under the gaze of Rembrandt’s statue on their way to drink and dance the night away.

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