In 1647, the original farmhouse built in 1594 was renovated and the first buildings in the Buurt Over Ouderkerk district were constructed here on the banks of the Amstel river. In 1693, it was purchased by Pieter Meffert who named it Paardenburg. With the rise of modern transport by ship and horse over the river, Meffert decided to turn Paardenburg into a tavern. This turned out to be a lucrative decision. In 1702 he was able to build this building, which officially became an inn. This is the start of the illustrious history of one of the most famous restaurants in the Netherlands. For centuries, Paardenburg has been a place for people to meet, to moor, to park, and to dine.
In addition to being a place to replenish for passers-through, Paardenburg was also a popular venue for dignitaries and the local clubs and associations. The polder board of the Middelpolder regularly held their meetings here in the mid-1800s. But this is not actually so unique, considering that one of the board members owned the building – he had bought it in 1846 for 3,800 guilders. We also know that the Hollandsche Maatschappij van Landbouw (Holland society for agriculture) held their meetings here in 1855 for the total amount of five guilders. Five years later, this society organized a harness race in the Amstelzijde district with a celebratory closing hosted at Paardenburg. This became a yearly event and a new tradition was born, where the day was concluded with fireworks. Paardenburg was also the stage of political unrest, demonstrated by the official meetings that took place inside. Opponents would gather outside in protest against matters such as the annexation of the of territory of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel by Amsterdam, for example.
These days, a great deal has been invested in parking facilities for the large number of guests who visit Paardenburg, but these facilities were already present in deeds dating back to 1801. This shows that the adjacent, current restaurant, India Port, was the coach house with horse stables where eighteen horses could be stabled. There was also a 2.5-hectare piece of land where people could graze their horses. Where nowadays you can lock your car with the click of a button and go inside to eat, the horses used to have to be taken care of with food and drink and the stables had to be cleaned out daily.
The building has undergone many transformations over the centuries. The iconic veranda, which was built in 1898, was renovated in 1924. In 1967 it was renovated again and turned into the conservatory. Inside the conservatory you can still see the centuries-old clinker bricks on top of which the first veranda was built in 1898.
Paardenburg has seen many owners come and go and has been sold and bought for high and low amounts. Throughout the centuries, it has experienced wealth and it has experienced poverty. The one manager would become immensely rich, the other went bankrupt. The menu has featured all types of dishes, from French haute cuisine to spare ribs. It once was a stage for famous Dutch chef Herman den Blijker, who started his television career here with the series De Engel en Het Paard.
Despite the many changes over the centuries, a few things have remained unchanged: the building, the Amstel river, the meetings, the dinners, the name, and the fame.