Irene de Craen

Warehouse of smells

The once massive warehouse of the VOC on Oostenburg Island must have been an extreme olfactory experience...


Oost-Indisch Magazijn, Oostenburg - Seen from IJ, after collapse Source: Collectie Stadsarchief Amsterdam inventarisnummer 010097012615

The Oost-indisch zeemagazijn (East Indian naval warehouse) was a gigantic warehouse of the V.O.C. on the island of Oostenburg in Amsterdam. The building, designed by architect Daniel Stalpaert, was built in 1665 to house the goods of the V.O.C. The warehouse had two wings of four floors and was about 215 meters long. It thus covered the full width of the VOC shipyard on the island of Oostenburg. In the East Indian naval warehouse, supplies were stored for the ships of the VOC and the precious goods that the ships brought from Asia. The ground floor was used as a slaughterhouse large enough to keep 60 carcasses, other floors were used to store ropes, porcelain and shells used for trade, and the top floors were filled with spices such as pepper and cinnamon (Kruizinga, 49-51). The gigantic warehouse dominated the IJ in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and showed the power and wealth of the Dutch East India Company and of Amsterdam. But at the beginning of the nineteenth century, things went badly for Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Trade almost stopped, the IJ silted up, the city fell into disrepair. The building was neglected, and finally collapsed in 1822.