City Hall

location: 

west side of Marktplein

year built: 
1620

Stadhuis. Other than the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk, the Stadhuis, or City Hall, was the most impressive building in Leeuwenhoek's Delft.

Originally built in 1200, it survived expansions and renovations in the 1500s and the city fire in 1536. However, the fire in 1618 destroyed everything except the limestone tower, and its bells were melted beyond repair. (They were re-cast for the Nieuwe Kerk's first bells in 1660.) In its present Dutch Renaissance style form, it was built by 1620 after a design by Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621), who also designed Prince Willem's mausoleum in the Nieuwe Kerk.

In 1660, at age 27, Leeuwenhoek was appointed Camerbewaarder der Camer van Heeren Schepenen van Delft. Their room (camer) was in the Stadhuis. Leeuwenhoek lived less than a hundred yards away.

Leaving his house, Leeuwenhoek would walk over the Warmoesbrug, across the open square (Camaretten) past the fish market and meat hall on his left, where he would turn right and be at the back of the Stadhuis. He would come upon the Stadhuis from the west, as in the photo below.

The Nieuwe Kerk tower rises across Market Square (below, view of the Stadhuis from the Nieuwe Kerk). The three closest windows on the second floor look in on the Schepenkamer. The next two look in on the city secretary's (and his clerks') room. The two closest to the Nieuwe Kerk are the little room where all the secretary's important archives and other documents were kept, and the treasury room in the corner.

Leeuwenhoek could enter the building through the back entrance, where he would have passed the two eagles that the city kept. Or he could enter through the front, up the steps from the Marktplein, through heavy doors, and into the Burgerzaal, or Citizen's Hall.

This wide public hall was used as a meeting place, a waiting place, and on special market days, a sales place for printed things: books, maps, etc. On the far wall was Bronckhorst's oil "Judgement of Solomon", and in front of it the traditional Vierschaar, the judges' seat. Twice a week during Leeuwenhoek's time, Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Burgerzaal became the Vierschaar, a public court of justice where official business was made public, for example, laws, rent agreements, civil and criminal penalties, and contracts for tax farmers.

On the right (click on thumbnails), up on a landing, are the tall double doors to the Schepencamer, or magistrates' chamber, Leeuwenhoek's responsibility. After 1678, its walls were covered with paintings and maps in richly carved frames with symbolic images and text. The outside windows have images of the Delft Arms.

This was the largest meeting room, larger than the Burgemeesterscamer, or mayors' chamber, which was set up to accomodate the public, the Weeskamer, where the children of deceased citizens were accounted for, and the Raadcamer at the bottom of the tower, where the Veertigraad met.

Today, the Burgerzaal hosts musical concerts. The Burgemeesters' room and Leeuwenhoek's Schepenkamer are popular places to get married, trouwzalen. The Burgemeesters' room (thumbnail below left) can hold a wedding party of two dozen. The Schepenkamer (below right) can hold three times as many and comes equipped with two videocams in the ceiling to give your friends remote access during the ceremony. This video of a 2009 ceremony gives a sense of the room.

Floor plan

This diagram came from A. de Groot's article "Het Stadhuis" and was used by Kees Kaldenbach for the same purpose. An iron door separated the Secretariat from the inner Secretariat.

A - Veertigraad - Council of Forty room

B -

C - Burgerzaal - Citizens Hall

D - Vierschaar - judges' seat

E - Weeskamer - Orphans Chamber

F - Bodenkamer - Messenger room

G - Secreet Vertrek - secret document room: charters, patents, sentences, and case files

H - Burgermeesterenkamer - Mayors Chamber

K - Treasurer's room

M - inner Secretariat

N - Secretariat

O - Schepenkamer - Magistrates Chamber

Q -

R -

S -

sources

Art historian Kees Kaldenbach has a terrific web about Vermeer, who lived in Delft with Leeuwenhoek. Kaldenbach's page on the Stadhuis references A. de Groot's article "Het Stadhuis" in De Stad Delft, cultuur en maatschappij van 1572 tot 1667, which draws from van Bleyswyck's 1667 Beschryvinge der Stadt Delft. In Boitet's Beschryving, it begins in Chapter III on page 71, just before the lists of the members of the Veertigraad.

1832 Kadaster number: 

C0946