"Banning poles (Dutch: Banpalen)" Amsterdam Off The Beaten Path Tip by Pijlmans

Amsterdam Off The Beaten Path: 525 reviews and 772 photos

  Banpaal Amstel river
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  • Banpaal Amstel river - Amsterdam
      Banpaal Amstel river
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  • Banpaal Amstelveen - Amsterdam
      Banpaal Amstelveen
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  • Banpaal Amstelveen - Amsterdam
      Banpaal Amstelveen
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  • Banpaal Sloten - Amsterdam
      Banpaal Sloten
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  • Banpaal Geuzenbos - Amsterdam
      Banpaal Geuzenbos
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Four authentic "banning poles" or "boundary stakes" (banpaal in Dutch) can be found around Amsterdam. In 1544 emperor Charles V granted Amsterdam the right to ban criminals, vagabonds and other undesirable individuals to one German mile (7.4 km) outside the city gates. Six boundary stakes along the main approaches to the city indicated the borders of this banishment area. Exiles were forbidden to enter the area within the limits of the stakes until their banishment had ended. By entering the area they risked capital punishment.

Banning was a popular punishment for thieves and beggars, but also for cursing, gambling or prostitution. Nobody has been exiled since 1800.

On the banning poles is written "Terminus Proscriptions" and "Uiterste Palen Der Ballingen" which is respectively Latin and Dutch for "limit post of the banished".

Interestingly, in 1650 the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt made an etching showing one of these banning poles. This "Rembrandt pole" dates from 1624 and has been relocated several times. The lower part unfortunately has been destroyed, but the remaining part can now be found in the Geuzenbos at the Spaarnwouderdijk, close to its original position where it was painted by Rembrandt. The exact location is behind the water-pumping station near the Wethouder van Essenweg. You'll have to climb over a small wooden fence to reach it, this is completely legal to do, the fence is just there to keep the sheep inside (coordinates N52 23.521 E4 46.153).

The other 3 remaining banning poles can be found here:

- Sloterweg in Sloten, hidden in an alley between house numbers 1204 and 1208. The original boundary stake from 1624 along the Sloterweg in Sloten marked the southwestern extent of the banishment area and was replaced in 1794, since it was falling into ruin (coordinates N52 20.501 E4 47.927).

- Amsterdamseweg 210 in Amstelveen dating from 1625 . The banning pool on the Amsterdamseweg in Amstelveen is close to the parks De Braak, Thijssepark and Broersepark in Amstelveen and a visit to the banning pole could be combined with a visit to these parks (coordinates N52 18.810 E4 50.826).

- Along the river Amstel, Amsteldijk Noord, close to house number 65. This banning pole from 1625 is included in a marked 10 km walk through the Middelpolder (coordinates N52 18.624 E4 54.278).

I made a 48 km cycle tour along the banning poles called Amsterbanned. Click on the link for more info!

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  • Updated Apr 6, 2014
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