Our history

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1886 - 1944

In the year 1886, the construction of the building of the Sint Elisabeth Gesticht started and was finished in 1888. The 'Gesticht' offered a home to Catholic orphan girls, who had nowhere else to go. Here they had a safe home where nuns took great care of them. The strictly Catholic institution had the chapel as central point of the building, where the orphan girls and nuns gathered on daily basis.


Right after the official opening at the end of the 19th century, queen and regent Emma, wife of king Willem III, visited the orphanage. In 1922, she returned to the Sint Elisabeth Gesticht for the second time. Several years later, when the first World War started, the orphanage offered shelter to Belgian refugees, who stayed in the attic for several years.

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1944 - 1945

During the second World War, the obstetrician department of the 'Onze Lieve Vrouwe' hospital was occupied by German Nazis, which made them move to the orphanage. Unfortunately, the German Nazis also occupied the orphanage in 1944 until the liberation in 1945.

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1945 - 1969

In the period after the war, the orphanage tried to find their feet in society, now as nursing home for elderly. Oddly, the prices of housing were never changed since the twenties, which resulted in many financial problems from the fifties onward. In 1982, the financial problems became too big and the orphanage went bankrupt after more than 80 years of contribution to society.

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1982 - 1992

Consequently, the municipality decided that the building had to be used to house the homeless people called 'Dam- and Vondelparkslapers' (translated: Damsquare and Vondelpark sleepers"). They were able to rent a bed for a few guilders at the so called 'Sleep-In'.

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1992 - 2002

The municipality decided that they no longer wanted to exploit the Sleep-In. Therefore, a development plan was created for the building. The plan was to create a hostel, pub, restaurant and a stage for bands. In 1992 the International Youth Center for Culture and Tourism opened its doors under the name Arena.

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2002 - present

Arena transformed into Hotel Arena and now, almost 30 years later, we are a monumental, intimate, four-star Design Hotelâ„¢ in the most beautiful park in Amsterdam. For decades run by hospitable locals, open to all citizens of the world. This makes us the place where locals, travellers and creatives meet. For an exhibition, concert, or just an unusual night sleep in one of our iconic rooms. And that, all under one roof. We are here ready to pamper you.

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