That’s how the Schreier Tower got its name (And no, it’s not what you think)!
They used to serve as landmarks, watches or lookouts. Today, Amsterdam’s towers serve as tourist attractions, restaurants or museums, among other things. How did they come about and what is their story? Today: all about the Schreier Tower.
Defense of the city
Around 1380, a dike was built around Amsterdam to defend the growing city from anything that was then sea. This is now the Seafront, the place with the best dim sum in town. As Amsterdam’s trade and port grew, a city wall was also built in 1481. The Schreier Tower was the defense tower of this medieval city wall. When the wall was demolished in 1600, the tower was spared. It became a port office until 1966 when it was decided to restore the tower.
Crying at the tower
At one time the tower was still called “Schrayershoucktoren,” because of the sharp (“schraye”) angle the city wall made here. The tower owes its current name to a myth derived from one of its gable stones, which shows a weeping woman and a ship. Because you looked out from the tower over both the sea and the harbor, this was the place for VOC women to say goodbye to their husbands before they set out on their voyages. And because there was a lot of crying (“crying”) involved, the tower was named Schreierstoren.
Virgins and Water Beggars
The real story behind the facade stone is different. The weeping woman represents a virgin – which is how the community of Amsterdam was often depicted – who is sad because of the difficult position the city found itself in, just before the 80-year war. Indeed, the city was struggling with many problems, such as the newly instituted tax system by the Spaniards and the blocking of the ports by looters. No wonder the virgin wept.
Books and drinks
Since the restoration, a ship chart and bookstore has been located at the top of the tower. But today the Schreierstoren is best known as a cozy place for drinks, meetings or even weddings.
Cruise past the tower on a sunny day to see the facade stone with your own eyes. With a boat from De Nederlanden, you’ll dock right at the Schreierstoren’s private dock.