A world where problems seem to be forever growing, that around political uncertainty, climate change and a massive economic shift, it seems like a time firstly to distract from these issues and read about something as interesting as the current world is unsettling. Attractions that show a similar discomfort, but that is sought after instead of brushed under the carpet are what attract most certainly me and what seems like a growing number of people (if you haven’t watched the Netflix series ‘Dark Tourist’ I can highly recommend it).
Amsterdam is a city that has seen so many ups and downs of the nation, one of them centring around this very house; 216 Amstel. Built during the ‘golden years’ of The Netherlands in the mid 1600s, it eventually became owned by a multiple time mayor of the city, Coenraad van Beuningen. Although being incredibly intelligent and personable, enough to take him to lead the country’s capital on multiple occasions, van Beuningen suffered with being (what is now believed to be) bi-polar disorder.
van Beuningen was educated overseas and eventually became an ambassador for the Dutch Republic to the other great powers at the time. There are also countless citations that could be made around the reputation he held within the political, literature and historical communities, being listed as the Dutch Republic’s ‘most experienced diplomat’ for many years.
Despite this massive success in so many fields, his fall from grace is almost as recognised currently. This is more down to the life span of constructions than of historical writings, and those constructions being at the forefront of the public’s view. Having being linked with bi-polar disorder, it can be assumed that he did not have the most stable of mentalities, and thus with an economic downturn and the on set of a great change in his financial situation, his mind began to crumble.
The Dutch Republic had begun funding an invasion of Great Britain and with it overspent in an attempt to overthrow William III. This drought of funds within the government spurred on a financial crisis in the republic and with it the loss of many people’s livelihoods. One being of Coenraad van Beuningen and the countless Dutch Guilders he had invested in shares around the country. With the loss of his biggest asset he lost his mind.
Articles will list anything from having to fire all of his resident staff to having to be chained up by his staff for his own safety. One common story does occur that he began to scribe in Hebrew letters and obscure characters over many things. The outside of his house was eventually under his control and his own blood being used as paint. Little has been done to decipher these scribblings, but the atmosphere still remains around them appearing to be written in blood over 300 years ago.
Walking by the building it could have easily been missed, however, with more observation, more scrawls began to show. The extent of the madness the van Beuningen fell into is astounding, considering his vast talent in a variety of areas. If you are ever visiting the city and looking for the more obscure attractions, I can highly recommend 216 Amstel, nearby you will find an incredibly pleasant walk along the Amstel river, the Xtracool Ice Bar and some quaint river bridges.