Down otherwise tacky Damrak is the old stock-exchange building that received a hostile reception when it was first built but is now revered as Amsterdam's first modern building and the country's most important piece of 20th-century architecture. Built between 1898 and 1903 by H. P. Berlage, the building became a template for the style of a new century. Gone were all the ornamentations of the 19th-century "Neo" styles. The new Beurs, with its simple lines and the influence it had on the Amsterdam School architects who followed Berlage, earned him the reputation of being the "Father of Modern Dutch Architecture."
The building is in fact a political manifesto that preaches the oneness of capital and labor. Built upon 4,880 wooden piles, each of the Beurs van Berlage's 9 million bricks is meant to represent an individual, who together form a strong and democratic whole. Berlage showed particular respect for the labor unions by exposing their works and accenting the important structural
points with natural stone. Today, the Beurs serves as a true Palazzo Publico with concert halls (home to the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra) and space for exhibitions of architecture and applied arts. The small museum has exhibits about the former stock exchange and its architect and offers access to the lofty clock tower and strong room, but these can be viewed only by taking part in a bi-weekly tour (every second Saturday from mid-January to mid-June, €14.50, reservations 020/531–3355) or on an architecture tour organized by Artiflex (020/620–8112). Stop in at the café to admire the stunning symbolist mosaics by Jan Toorop over a coffee (Mon.–Sat. 10–9, Sun. 11–9).