History of the Dutch stock exchange

Behind the monumental building called Beurs van Berlage lies a wealth of historic events. This page offers a brief overview of the various exchanges Amsterdam used to have and how the Beurs van Berlage transformed from stock exchange building into public palace.

Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam

Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser

The first stock exchange in the Netherlands was set up by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1602. They came up with the idea of issuing shares in order to finance their maritime activities. They did need a stock exchange building however, in order to be able to trade the shares.

Amsterdam city council decided to build a separate stock exchange building and hired Hendrick de Keyser to design one. In 1611, his stock exchange was completed and it became the venue for the trading of VOC shares and, from 1621, also those of the Dutch West India Company (WIC).
 As such, the Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser was referred to as the oldest stock exchange in the world. The building, located at Rokin, was demolished in 1835 due to subsidence and was replaced by the Beurs van Zocher. 

Beurs van Zocher Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam

Beurs van Zocher

The Beurs van Zocher was given a different location than the Beurs van Hendrik de Keyser, at Damrak. Jan David Zocher’s design did very much correspond with that of Hendrick de Keyser. It was a rectangular building, with an open inner courtyard and a south-facing entrance. Its appearance, on the other hand, was completely different. The Beurs van Zocher had the appearance of ancient Roman architecture and had almost no windows, which prompted people to nickname it Mausoleum (a monumental building where the remains of dead people were kept).

As such, the Beurs van Zocher was not a very big success and traders and the united Chamber of Commerce put pressure on the Amsterdam administration to have a new stock exchange built. This led to serious political debates in 1884, but the arrival of a new building was postponed due to the economic crisis in the 19th century.

Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam

Beurs van Berlage

At the end of the 19th century, Amsterdam was doing well. Trade was flourishing and a growing number of people decided to move to the city. In 1896, the Amsterdam administration therefore decided to allow the construction of the new stock exchange to go ahead after all. The honour of developing this new building went to architect and urban designer Hendrik Petrus Berlage.

Berlage designed a completely new building, its bell tower carrying the ‘Beursbengel’ (exchange bell) being the most prominent element. Berlage, being a staunch socialist, believed the stock exchange trade had a short lease of life. Yet he found a smart and creative solution for this dilemma: inspired by the Italian Palazzo Pubblicos, he decided to design the new stock exchange building in such a way that it could serve as a grand communal home, a public palace, after socialism had triumphed. He therefore built a sort of symbolic city hall, a ‘public palace’ that could temporarily serve as a stock exchange. 

Effectenbeurs Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam

Different exchanges

Based on the rationalistic design notions of a public palace, which set his generation of architects apart from his predecessors, Berlage started building his work. And so the Beurs van Berlage became a perfect manifestation of this new-style architecture.

During the opening of the building, four types of exchange were introduced. The stock exchange, the shippers’ trade exchange, the corn exchange and the commodity exchange each had their own hall with meeting and auction rooms to do business. After these exchanges left the Beurs van Berlage, the building was given the function envisaged by H.P. Berlage when he made his design: a public palace.   

Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam Royal Wedding

From stock exchange to public palace

The Beurs van Berlage has been a “public palace” since 1985, when it was still managed and owned by the Municipality of Amsterdam.  In those days, the northern end was used for rehearsals and the offices of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. The Graanbeurszaal and Effectenbeurszaal were converted into rehearsal and concert halls. “Stichting Beurs van Berlage” settled on the south end (Grote Zaal, Café, Berlage Zaal), organising various cultural and social activities. 

On 2 February 2002, the Beurs van Berlage was the venue for the civil wedding ceremony between crown prince Willem-Alexander and princess Máxima. In part because of the construction of the new north-south metro line, the Beurs was given completely new foundations between 1998 and 2002 and a number of restorations were carried out. 

Conference and events centre

Since 2008, the Beurs van Berlage has been a limited partnership with four equal shareholders, namely the Municipality of Amsterdam, De Key, Amvest and BPD Nederland. With the arrival of shareholders, it is the Beurs van Berlage’s mission to become the most inspiring meeting place in Amsterdam. That is why the building not only hosts cultural and social activities, it also serves as a conference and events centre.

For more information about the history of the various exchanges, view the List of Rooms and discover the history of the Beurs van Berlage. 

Book Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam

Beurs van Berlage book

The Beurs van Berlage is one of the most important and most famous nationally listed buildings in the Netherlands. Not only is this building of major importance to architecture, it also has a very interesting history and harbours many treasures. 

The book gives you an insight into the design, construction and end result. It highlights the biggest and most interesting events and explains future plans. The story of the Beurs van Berlage is unravelled, illustrated and singled out for € 10. The shipping costs are € 3.36 (inside the Netherlands).

The Beurs van Berlage book is now available at the reception desk in the Beurs van Berlage and at the Beurs van Berlage Grand Café.

If you wish to order the book online, please send an e-mail to info@beursvanberlage.com.