Scheepvaarthuis

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Scheepvaarthuis

With its extravagantly phantasmagoric zinc-roof detailing spilling over various sculpted sea horses, boat anchors, sea gods (Neptune and his four wives), dolphins, and even shoals of fish, this is one of Amsterdam's most delightful turn-of-the-20th-century structures. Built in the 1910s to sport a suitably prow-shaped front, it was used as the headquarters for the major shipping firms that brought back booty from Java and the Spice Islands during the final Dutch colonial years. It's now a five-star hotel, the Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam. 20th-century master architects Piet Kramer, Johan van der Mey, and Michel de Klerk all contributed to the design of the building; their structure was one of the opening salvos by the fantastic Amsterdam School. After you admire all the ornamentation on the facade, amble around the sides to take in the busts of noted explorers, such as Barentsz and Mercator, along with patterned brickwork and strutting iron tracery. Wander inside to check out the design of the Seven Seas restaurant and have a drink at the classically restored bar. You can book a private tour of the building and its lavish interiors (available only in combination with a rather expensive high tea or lunch, via Museum Het Schip, at www.hetschip.com).

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