News of: Monday, February 27 2006,
The House with the heads has been sold by the City of Amsterdam to Mr Joost Ritman, owner of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica.
The House with the heads (located at Keizersgracht 123) is one of the most beautiful 17th century canal houses in Amsterdam.
The richly decorated facade is one of the very few remaining facades in the style commonly called the Baroque Amsterdam Renaissance in the manner of architect Hendrick de Keyser.
The six heads from which the house derives its name are prominently displayed in the gable. They represent divinities from classical antiquity: Apollo with his laurel wreath occurs twice (the two heads on the far left and far right); Diana, the moon goddess with the crescent; Ceres with her ears of corn and Bacchus with his bunch of grapes, while Minerva and Mars, the war god with the helmet, are depicted on either side of the entrance gate. Legend has it that these are in actual fact the heads of six robbers, decapitated by a fearless maid servant.
The building housed the Monuments and Archeology Bureau of the City of Amsterdam, but this became too expensive and inefficient.
These offices will move to building 'De Bazel', in the Vijzelstraat, together with the City Archives.
Amsterdam decided to sell the building; an important condition was that the building remains accessible to the public.
Mr Ritman sees the purchase (the purchasing sum is not disclosed) as a crown on his work. In 1656 the Polish philosopher Comenius used to live in the house, and he was known as a prominent advocate of world peace. Mr Ritman thinks of Amsterdam as a historic haven of freedom, and thinks this identity can be carried on by the House with the Heads.
Ritman plans to have congresses and exhibitions in the house, and perhaps the collection of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica may move (in whole or in part) to the location.