The magistrate’s hall is a hidden gem in Kampen. Dating to 1545, this council chamber was once a place of power. Amazingly, the room hasn’t been changed in hundreds of years and still contains many of its original features.
From the outside, the brown brick, metal bars, and stained glass hint at the stately interior. Upon entering, your eye is drawn to the enormous, ornate stone fireplace. Wooden seating and beautiful cladding rest beneath the uniquely shaped roof.
Look closer, and you’ll see that the hall continues revealing impressive little details. There’s an angel looking down on the magistrate’s entrance and pointing toward a painting of Judgement Day (it’s a not-so-subtle message of “you are going to judge, but one day you will be judged yourself!”). There are also colorful pieces of stained glass bearing a family coat of arms. Dutch speaking visitors will also notice references to proverbs and sayings like “in the doofpot stoppen” (a cover up) and “een heet hangijzer” (a reference to a tricky problem that won’t go away).
The room is but one part of the Stedelijk Museum Kampen. It’s part of the museum’s section on justice. It, along with the museum’s sections on water, religion, and the House of Orange-Nassau, tells the story of Kampen’s history.
Know Before You Go
The Schepenzaal is now part of the Stedelijk Museum Kampen. Unfortunately, it isn't particularly accessible for people in a wheelchair due to the two little steps at the entrance of the hall.
Be sure to dress appropriately—the hall is not heated to conserve its centuries-old interior as best as possible. It can therefore be bitterly cold inside it during winter!