The building De Waag was built in 1488 as one of the three city gates of Amsterdam. After the expansion of Amsterdam in 1617, the building functioned as the place where all the incoming goods from the harbour were weighed. No surprise maybe that “Waag” is the Dutch word for scale. This was one of the ways for the government of Amsterdam to become very wealthy, for the taxes over the goods were pretty high.
At the same time different guilds resided in the building. Guilds can be explained as a medieval union. People from the same trade, like for instance different crafts or the merchant joined in a group, where they had privileges and teached eachother the trade. On the building of the Waag, you can see the different signs of the different guilds. For instance, please go and search for the ‘St Lucas Guild’ sign, the guild for artists and smiths. No doubt you will also be able to find the sign for the masons!
One of the other guilds was that of surgeons. A fun fact is that in De Waag, Dr. Nicolaes Tulp taught anatomy students. Once every year a body of a convicted criminal was dissected in the name of science. One of these lessons is portrayed by the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn in the painting “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp”. Imagine going back in time and watching the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn enter the building to start sketching one of his most iconic paintings!
If you would like to see the famous painting, you can visit the Mauritshuis in The Hague!
Nowadays, De Waag houses a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch, brunch, or dinner. On a sunny day you can relish at the terrace!