The Athenaeum Illustre And The Universities of Amsterdam

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Daneel Bouden

Athenaeum Illustre Amsterdam
This page is dedicated to the universities of Amsterdam and their background. We would also like to mention the ‘illustrate school’ of 1630, which was situated in the chapel of Saint Agnes.Athenaeum Illustere It was this school that was later to become the UvA (University of Amsterdam.)

The word “illustrate” refers to illustrious, outstanding or glorious.

The only thing left of the convent of Saint Agnes is the chapel. The convent itself burned down in 1452 during one of the two great city fires. (link) The chapel was rebuild in 1470, and in 1629, a large section was turned over to the Atheneum Illustre. Today (since 2005), the chapel functions as a congress hall to the University of Amsterdam.

Science was seen as extra allure to the city’s wealthy merchants. It gave the city (and therefore them) greater prestige. Amsterdam’s reputation grew as a trading town and as a city of culture and science.

In 1632, two of the city’s leading scientists, Barlaeus (of Baerle) and Vossius, held their inaugural speeches at the Athenaeum Illustre.
However, it was not until 1815 that the school was officially recognized as an institute of higher learning. Several decennia later, in 1877, the Atheneum Illustre finally became known as what it is today, the UvA, the University of Amsterdam. As the school was not officially recognized and consequently the right to graduate from it was withheld, it was unable to call itself a university until that date, much to the dismay of its founders.

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231, the gate of Saint Agnes.
The one piece of tangible evidence that still exists of the school is a gate with its name on it, the gate that led to the chapel that today functions as a congress hall. The evidence is indisputable as the gate still stands as it has been for centuries as a reminder of the efforts of the scientists of the seventeenth century who toiled seemingly without effort to provide Amsterdam with its own school of higher learning.
The gate, made from brick and sandstone, leads to a small square in front of the former chapel.

Amsterdam: two universities
Amsterdam has, in the meantime, obtained another uni, besides the UvA called the “Vrije Universiteit” vrij, meaning free in Dutch. I’ve placed two links in the form of images that will lead you to their respective websites. I’ll include two small descriptions of each school as students are usually smart enough not to rely on my expertise and are generally quite able to find their own way and sources of information.

UVA | University of Amsterdam
This uni is one of the largest in The Netherlands and provides courses on almost all officially recognized subjects. While its buildings are spread throughout the entire city, most are located in the centre of town. Finding a room for rent around your college might be tedious; you may have to be patient before you’ve found something halfway suitable.

The UvA aspires to be known and recognized internationally but is besides creative, critical in nature. It strives to provide an unrestricted ambience coupled with a strong aspect of social involvement.
The UVA cooperates closely with the HVA (Amsterdam school of higher learning), enabling students to flow through from one institution to the other. It makes choosing the right studies and professions a great deal easier.

VU | Vrije Universiteit (Free university)
Its description of teaching content and its determination to stick to high education standards is what this university is mostly known for. Students work and live in small groups with a major emphasis on communication and interaction complemented by a personal approach to tutoring.

The uni has a Christian background, which comes to the fore in ideology, philosophy, social involvement and room and respect for other convictions. Now, science goes hand in hand with norms, standards and values.
The VU hospital is part of the university. It takes about 20 minutes to get there from the city centre and is well served by public transport. Because its location on the edge of the city and student campus being nearby, it’s easier to find a room near the VU than the UvA.

The Athenaeum Illustre is window number 15 in the Canon of Amsterdam.