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Visiting the Central Railroad Station, Amsterdam: neo-Renaissance and neo-Gothic building by P. J. H. Cuypers

Updated on January 17, 2012
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
Central Railroad Station, Amsterdam
Central Railroad Station, Amsterdam | Source
Central Railroad Station, Amsterdam
Central Railroad Station, Amsterdam | Source
Map location of Amsterdam municipality
Map location of Amsterdam municipality | Source

Built 1881-1889, now well established as an important piece of an archictectural heritage

This enormous building might, to the unsuspecting visitor, seem at first to be some kind of royal or archiepiscopal palace, or seat of government.

In fact, Amsterdam's Central Railroad Station (Dutch: Station Amsterdam-Centraal ) was designed by an architect who specialized in creating and restoring church buildings. P. J. H. Cuypers (1827-1921), a Limburger, was responsible for many public and ecclesiastical buildings in The Netherlands, and was noted for a strong sense of religious sensibility (1). Another well-known project in Amsterdam with which Architect Cuypers was associated was the Rijksmuseum.

The styles that Architect Cuypers combined in his design for Amsterdam's Central Railroad Station were neo-Renaissance and neo-Gothic. It would probably be fair to say that the former one predominates, but with a widely dispersed elements of the latter. The building is mainly executed in red stone. Carvings, pinnacles and various coats of arms combine to give the very wide, main frontage an ornate appearance.

This fine structure was built between the years 1881 and 1889. Interestingly, when the project was underway, it took many local citizens a long time to become accustomed the idea of such a building as a permanent fixture of the cityscape. Some of the more strongly critical comments made at the time now read rather ironically, since Architect Cuypers's undoubtedly magnificent and still much used creation (2) has long been well established as a prized piece of Amsterdam's architectural heritage.


(1) Architect Cuypers was a Dominican (and was even buried in a monastic cape). The Dutch province of Limburg is noted for a strong sense of religious traditionalism among its mainly Roman Catholic inhabitants. For the Central Railroad Station, Architect Cuypers was assisted by Architect A. L. van Gendt.

(2) Approximately ΒΌ million people travel through Amsterdam's Central Railroad Station every day.

Also worth seeing

In Amsterdam itself, the Royal Palace on the Dam and the nearby Nieuwe Kerk, are major landmarks, as is the Munt tower. The Anne Frank House attracts many visitors.

Utrecht (distance: 44 kilometres) is particularly noted for its very tall Cathedral tower.


How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam-Schipol Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services between Amsterdam-Schipol and the Central Railroad Station in Downtown Amsterdam . There is car rental availability at Amsterdam airport. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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