Café de Sluyswacht was built in 1695 as a lock keepers’ house on the St.Anthoniesluis. The lock keeper served, controlled and maintained the lock at the service of the municipality of Amsterdam. The lock itself was built in 1602 to replace a dam between the Oude Schans and the Zwanenburgwal, the eastern defensive waters of the old town.
The locks had a dual purpose: preventing enemy ships from entering the city and controlling the outflow of river water from the Amstel via the canals to the Zuiderzeemonding, the IJ. They still fulfill the last function: in this way the water in the canals is regularly refreshed.
The oldest image of the St. Anthoniesluis is a drawing from the mid-17th century by Rembrandt van Rijn, who then lived in the opposite house with the red shutters. This building – bought by Rembrandt in 1639 – is now a museum for his etchings and bears his name: the Rembrandt House.
The Sluyswacht was in a neighborhood nicknamed the Jodenhoek from the beginning : the center of Jewish living and working in Amsterdam. In the 2nd World War, a large part of the former occupants were arrested and taken away by the occupiers, which resulted in vacancy and impoverishment of the neighborhood. In the mid-seventies, despite heavy protests, much was demolished for the construction of the Metro.
The Sluyswacht is one of the buildings that have been preserved. After years of neglect and various destinations, the building has been completely restored and has been in use as a café for 20 years. It is right next to the Amsterdam School of the Arts (opened in 1997 by Queen Beatrix).