Fortress sights in Amsterdam
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The very grand, multiturreted Waag (Weigh House) dates from 1488, when it was part of the city’s fortifications. It looked more like a castle in those days, fronted by a moatlike canal and built into the old city walls. From the 17th century onwards it was the main weigh house. The surgeons guild, which occupied the upper floor, commissioned Rembrandt’s famous The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp (displayed in the Mauritshuis museum in Den Haag). The masons’ guild was based in the tower facing the Zeedijk; note the superfine brickwork. Public executions took place at the Waag, but more recently it served as a fire station and a vault for the city’s archives. A bar-restaurant…
This prominent brick tower dating from around 1480 – the oldest of its kind still standing – was once part of the city’s defences. Its name comes from an old Dutch word for ‘sharp’, for this sharp corner jutted out into the IJ. Tourist literature prefers to call it the ‘wailing tower’ (from schreien, to weep or wail) and claims that sailors’ wives stood here and cried their lungs out when ships set off for distant lands. There’s a fake plaque dedicated to the women inside, in the attractive cafe. Outside a plaque commemorates Henry Hudson’s sailing from here to the New World.