From the outside, it's a bit hard to believe that these ponderous premises were declaimed by poet and diplomat Constantijn Huygens as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The palace was built between 1648 and 1665 and was the largest secular building in the world when it was completed. From the inside, the magnificent interior inspires another brand of disbelief: this palace was actually built as a mere city hall. Golden Age artistic greats such as Ferdinand Bol, Govert Flinck, and Jan Lievens were called in for the decorating (Rembrandt's sketches were rejected). In the building's Burgerzaal, or public entrance hall, there are two maps inlaid in the marble floor, to show Amsterdam as the center of the world, and as the center of the universe.
In order to build the Royal Palace, architect Jacob van Campen had to dig deep in search of solid ground using the standard local technique of driving wooden piles down through layers of swamp and sand to anchor the foundation. What was less standard
was the sheer number of piles—a figure that every Dutch child knows—13,659.
The building has remained the Royal Palace ever since Napoléon's brother squatted there in 1808, and it's one of three palaces at which the monarch hosts official receptions and state visits. The Palace also hosts art exhibitions and displays on the history of the building itself. Official occasions mean opening times can vary.