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Visiting the National Memorial, The Dam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: a place of solemn remembrance designed by J J P Oud

Updated on June 8, 2012
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
The Dam at Amsterdam, with the National Monument (left)
The Dam at Amsterdam, with the National Monument (left) | Source
National Monument, Amsterdam
National Monument, Amsterdam | Source
J.J.P. Oud. c 1918. Photo (anonymous)
J.J.P. Oud. c 1918. Photo (anonymous) | Source
Map location of Amsterdam municipality
Map location of Amsterdam municipality | Source

Here at this symbol of peace, peace-loving hippies rioted in 1970

This highly conspicuous monument, rugged in its simplicity, is situated on The Dam, in Downtown Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Some history and features

It was completed in 1956 and unveiled by Queen Juliana of The Netherlands and every year the National Monument on the Dam (Dutch: Nationaal Monument op de Dam ) is the focus of a solemn ceremony recalling those who suffered in World War Two, after, in 1940, The Netherlands was invaded by Nazi Germany. This ceremony is known as the Remembrance of the Dead (Dutch: Dodenherdenking ).

The Monument's architect was J J P Oud (1890-1963); the style with which the architect was broadly associated is known as 'poetic functionalism'. Mainly executed in concrete, the central part of the Memorial consists of a 22-metre pillar covered in white tavertine stone (1).

The Monument is surrounded by a number of works by a family of sculptors: John, Han, and Jan Willem Raedecker; these include two statues of lions, which symbolize The Netherlands; various other statues symbolize suffering and resistance. The national scope of the Memorial was underscored by the symbolic placing of 11 urns containing soil from each of the 11 Dutch provinces (2).

Broadly speaking, the Dam with its National Memorial has come to function like Trafalgar Square, London, or Times Square, New York: a place where the unconventional sometimes gather to express their viewpoints. One such manifestation of unconventionality occurred in 1970, when peace-loving hippies rioted around this symbol of peace.

However, those most likely to 'riot' near the Memorial are pigeons vying with one another to feed.

June 8, 2012


(1) Tavertine is a form of limestone, and has often been used for building purposes, especially in southern Europe.

(2) However, existence of only 11 urns became problematic for some Dutch people. What of the overseas Dutch who suffered in World War Two? In the end, a further urn was deposited to accommodate what was felt to be the symbolic lack, particularly representing the Dutch East Indies. Interestingly, in 1986 a new Dutch province in the European, as opposed to overseas, Netherlands, was created, by the name of Flevoland.

Also worth seeing

In Amsterdam itself, among the numerous visitor attractions, the following are included: facing the Dam is the Royal Palace, adjacent to which is the Nieuwe Kerk; the Anne Frank House at Prisengracht 263-265; the Munt tower (Dutch: Munttoren ) is a well-known landmark by the meeting of the Amstel River and the Singel Canal; the Central Railroad Station is a fine, monumental structure; and many others.

Mesch (distance: 221 kilometres); in World War Two, this village was the first locality in The Netherlands to be liberated by American troops in 1944.


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 Downtown Amsterdam . There is car rental availability at Amsterdam airport. Please 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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