In the 17th century, The Netherlands experienced a period of great wealth. For this, it is referred to by some as The Dutch Golden Age. Its military achievements and role in trade and art, and several significant inventions by Dutch scientists put The Dutch Republic at the center of the universe.
It started with the foundation of the East India Company in 1602. This government ruled consolidation of rival trading companies was one of the first megacorporation’s in the world. From Dutch ports, ships sailed the world, trading goods, spices, minerals, and more.
It resulted in a flood of people from abroad who tried their luck in the then Dutch Republic. Often, they had fled from religious prosecution and found a society that was tolerant and free. Women also enjoyed a lot more freedom here than in other parts of Europe. Because of this, the Dutch Golden Age is sometimes credited to have been the catalyst for Western Civilization. This role is often disputed. However great this time was to the Netherlands, it is important to also acknowledge the negative influences that this time had on the world, including violent colonisation and the nations role in the slavery trade.
Because of the explosive immigration, Amsterdam became the most important commercial and industrial city in the world, growing from 30.000 to 160.000 inhabitants over only a couple of decades. Soon, the city’s officials drafted plans to expand. These included the now-famous Amsterdam canals where the wealthy noblemen and merchants, both from the city and abroad, built their homes. The tremendous wealth of that era is still evident in the beautiful architecture of some of the original 17th century homes along the canals. Leidsegracht, the address of Hotel The Noblemen, was one of the canals created. If you would continue in a straight line at the end of it, you’d arrive in the city of Leiden, hence its name.
The first owner of the plot on number 14 was Isaac Foucquier, who bought it in 1666, along with the adjacent plot on Keizersgracht. Foucquier was a merchant in marble and traded along the Mediterranean coast. On the ground and first floor of the hotel, you can still see the original marble he used when building his home. He had easy access to it, after all.
Over the years, the home was owned and occupied by a string of notable people. Many of them were noblemen in their own right. They inspired the name for the hotel. Some of the gentlemen the rooms in the hotel are themed around can be linked to people living on this particular stretch of the canal in the Golden Age. Rembrandt, for instance, painted at least five people who were neighbours or even family members of owners of this building. Several daughters of the Trip family lived on this part of Leidsegracht, some even next door. Many other neighbours were governors or administrators of the East India Company, the company that employed Michiel de Ruyter and Abel Tasman. And as part of high society, chances are they all knew each other and possibly belonged to the same circle of friends or were at least acquaintances. Who knows, maybe they even set foot in this hotel, to visit one of the owners.
We might never know. But we hope that the way we brought their remarkable stories to life in the hotel’s decor makes you feel like you walk where they once roamed. In a turbulent time in history that made Amsterdam the city it is today.