Elisabeth (‘Sissi’) of Austria (1837-1898)
In the seventeenth century the site of the Doelen Hotel was home to the Kloveniersdoelen, where the kloveniers (riflemen) gathered and trained. Rembrandt’s painting of the Givic Guard, The Night Watch, hung here from 1642 to 1715. The Kloveniersdoelen also served as a guest house for important guests. The hotel took its present form in 1882, when the fortified tower Swych Utrecht, which dated from 1482 and which was part of the original building, was destroyed.
The Doelen Hotel has housed illustrious guest over the years, including the Beatles in 1964. Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Emperor Franz Joseph’s wife (still known today thanks to the 1955 romantic feature film Sissi) stayed there from 1884-1885. The Empress was travelling incognito but was nonetheless accompanied by a hoard of servants. She was treated in Amsterdam by the legendary doctor Johann Georg Mezger. He successfully combated rheumatism and gout by tapping and rubbing – an early form of physiotherapy. He acquired his nickname, the ‘masseur of monarchs’, because a large number of his patients were members of the nobility. Empress Sissi liked to walk and would hurry to her consultation with Mezger at the Amstel Hotel on foot – hidden behind a fan and followed by an Amsterdam policeman.
Photo: City Archive Amsterdam.