The Street Awash with Blood

What is now the host for a quaint & friendly farmers market and special organic day IMG_5015once a week, Nieuwmarkt was once the venue for all public executions in Amsterdam.

Nestling between the canal Oudezijds Achterburgwal and Nieuwmarkt square Bloedstraat was rightly given its name Blood Street as it would act as the runaway for the fluids and bodily waste from the recently deceased.

King Louis Napoleon of Holland (Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger brother) wished to turn what was Amsterdam’s town hall in Dam square into his own Royal Palace and ordered the relocation of public executions further from his home. In 1808 the authorities selected Nieuwmarkt as the new final destination for all of the villainous low life, criminals and generally naughty people awarded the death penalty, still within the towns jurisdiction but far enough to not burden the king.

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Outside St Anthony’s gate, the grand building that is now a coffee shop and design company office but was once a vital entrance through the town historic protective walls, the executioners would erect their gallows and hoards of locals would gather to watch and shout abuse to those meeting their untimely demise. In the year 1812 Amsterdam locals were even honoured to see the French guillotine working in all its swift and efficient glory. Blood would drain from the lifeless corpses that were unfortunate to have been relieved of their heads and run through the street staining the brickwork and cobbled floor.

Now Bloedstraat is home to a handful of red light brothels and wandering tourists the majority of whom oblivious to the meaning behind the street name they are walking in. Nieuwmarkt square is host to a vast array of coffee shops and nightlife venues allowing party goers to forget what dark events once played out on that very spot.

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