Today, I am going to take you to our capitol Amsterdam. There aren’t many 16th century houses in the city anymore, but this one is quite remarkable and worthy of a post.
Between 1544 and 1550 a house was built on the Zeedijk, in the heart of the city. The Zeedijk is one of the oldest streets in Amsterdam, and the mixture of old houses with monumental gables and the nostalgic atmosphere make it a real tourist attraction. Mind you, it wasn’t always a happy place. Back when I was attending Amsterdam University in the late 80s -early 90s, the Zeedijk was a place you wanted to avoid with a passion.
The house, at number 1 Zeedijk, can be found on a 1544 map of Amsterdam by Cornelis Anthonisz. Back then it was an inn where sailors could stay for a few nights. The second and third floor had ample space for the sailors; hammocks were hung on the beams to create enough sleeping space for them. Their payment, if they were short on cash, was often a monkey or other animal, which they had taken home from their travels to more exotic places. The innkeeper could then sell the monkeys to rich citizens to settle the bill. The café is therefore appropriately called “In ‘t Aepjen” meaning In The Monkey.
Now… mind you, those monkeys quite often were covered in fleas. The customers left the inn scratching the flea bites. We still have a saying in Dutch “in de aap gelogeerd’ meaning ‘staying with the monkeys’; referring to something that looks like a good deal but turns out bad for you.