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Vrankrijk building with painted facade
Vrankrijk in 2015
Vrankrijk is located in Amsterdam
General information
AddressSpuistraat 216
Coordinates52°22′18″N 4°53′21″E / 52.371667°N 4.889167°E / 52.371667; 4.889167Coordinates: 52°22′18″N 4°53′21″E / 52.371667°N 4.889167°E / 52.371667; 4.889167
Opened1982 (squatted)

Vrankrijk is a legalised squat and self-managed social centre on the Spuistraat in central Amsterdam. There is an events space on the ground floor and above it a separate housing group.


Vrankrijk as a printers in 1880

The building was constructed in 1875. It was called Vrankrijk (which means 'France' in Dutch) from the very beginning.[1] After first being a woodworking shop, it became a printers. During World War II it was used by Marten Toonder and others to print fake documents for the resistance.[2]


Vrankrijk was squatted in November 1982 in order to stop its demolition.[3] It had stood empty for 7 years and was in a very bad state. It was repaired by the occupiers and became a central meeting space for the Amsterdam squatters movement, still thriving after the coronation and Vondelstraat riots of 1980.[4]

In 1991, the owner of the building at first threatened to evict the squatters and then offered to sell them the building.[5] The first offer was rejected but after the owner's workplace was occupied by 50 people, he stated he would sell the building if certain conditions were met.[6]


Since 1984, the groundfloor functions as a non-commercial events space. Many groups have organised benefits and infonights there.[7] The venue, which is separate to the living spaces above it, remains squatted.[3] In the 2010s, Vrankrijk hosts mainly punk and queer parties.[8][9] The building itself is well-known in Amsterdam for its colourful facade and anarchist slogans beside the door.[10]

The German NGO Sea-Watch, which supports the rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean, uses Vrankrijk as its official location.[11]

In September 2008, an incident occurred late at night in which two people were thrown out of the bar. When they tried to re-enter Vrankrijk, they were aggressive and caused a fight. One of the two, a squatter nicknamed Yoghurt, ended up unconscious and received serious injuries. In consequence Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen closed the bar.[1] In 2009, two people were sentenced to two years in jail (8 months suspended) for attacking Yoghurt with a piece of scaffolding pipe. A third person was not punished, since the court decided he had hit Yoghurt but his violence was proportionate.[12]

The bar reopened in 2012, run by a new collective (Stichting Tweeënveertig). The mayor, Eberhard van der Laan made the conditions that all the people involved in the previous incident were excluded and that the collective had to make a business plan.[13]

European Council protests[edit]

The 1997 European Council meeting occurred in Amsterdam on 16 and 17 June, resulting in the Treaty of Amsterdam. On Sunday 15 June, a large police operation targeted Vrankrijk, which was a base for the planned counter-demonstrations. Police filmed everyone entering and leaving the building. Some people were arrested and charged with membership of a criminal organisation. Later on, a group of 350 people left Vrankrijk, heading to the police station to support the arrestees. The entire group was arrested and charged with the same crime, making it the largest mass arrest in the Netherlands since 1966. Vrankrijk itself was not raided.[14] A judge was later highly critical of the actions of the police.[15]


Juan Ramón Rodrìguez Fernández was arrested on January 17 2001 in an Amsterdam supermarket by Dutch police acting on a Eurojust request from the Spanish Guardia Civil related to investigations concerning the Basque group ETA. Fernández, known as Juanra, was singer in the Barcelona hardcore band KOP. The police then raided Vrankrijk with 200 officers, checking all 14 bedrooms despite only having a warrant to search where Fernández had been staying.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blokker, Jan (9 February 2009). "De waarheid over Yoghurt, Vrankrijk en steigerpijpen (Dutch)". NRC. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  2. ^ Ploeger, Dana (30 April 1994). "Marten Toonder: Geen verzetsheld, een verzetsman". Trouw. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Legaal bewonen of niet, krakers blijven". Volkskrant (in Dutch). 24 November 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2019. Het bekende Vrankrijk bijvoorbeeld, een oude drukkerij aan de Spuistraat in Amsterdam, werd in 1982 bezet om het pand voor de sloop te behoeden. Tien jaar later werd het gebouw met financiële hulp van sympathisanten gekocht en ondergebracht in de stichting Dilemma, al bleef het café formeel wel gekraakt om een verlies van het politieke karakterte voorkomen.
  4. ^ Residents of Vrankrijk (1991). "Blijft Vrankrijk?". NN. 93. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  5. ^ Residents of Vrankrijk (1991). "Blijft Vrankrijk?". NN. 93. Retrieved 3 August 2019. Begin dit jaar dreigde de eigenaar per brief met ontruiming. Na enkele weken trok hij dit dreigement in, hierbij zei hij het pand eventueel te willen verkopen. Aan ons!!!
  6. ^ Residents of Vrankrijk (1991). "Blijft Vrankrijk?". NN. 93. Retrieved 3 August 2019. Pas begin september kwam er een reaktie van de eigenaar: het bod was te vaag. Hierop werd maandag 9 sept. het bouwbedrijf van de eigenaar bezet door zo'n 50 à 60 mensen. De aktie verliep goed en resulteerde in een gesprek met de Wit (eigenaar van Vrankrijk). Hieruit bleek dat De Wit eventueel nog aan ons wil verkopen als wij een serieus bod doen, bankgaranties hebben, een rechtspersoon hebben en dat binnen 3 weken.
  7. ^ Residents of Vrankrijk (1991). "Blijft Vrankrijk?". NN. 93. Retrieved 3 August 2019. Ontelbare organisaties en groepen hebben ondertussen in Vrankrijk benefieten/infoavonden met ons georganiseerd.
  8. ^ Lohman, Kirsty (2015). PhD: Punk Lives: Contesting Boundaries in the Dutch Punk Scene. Warwick University. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  9. ^ Eleftheriadis, K (2015). "Organizational Practices and Prefigurative Spaces in European Queer Festivals". Social Movement Studies. 14 (6): 651–667. doi:10.1080/14742837.2015.1029045.
  10. ^ "Inside ... Vrankrijk". Amsterdam Inside (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2019. Je herkent het aan de kleurrijke gevel en de anarchistische leuzen bij de ingang.
  11. ^ Navis, Jan-Willem (3 January 2019). "Maximaal 6 migranten Sea Watch welkom". De Telegraaf (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Twee jaar voor mishandeling Vrankrijk (Dutch)". AT5. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Krakersbolwerk Vrankrijk mag toch weer open (Dutch)". Het Parool. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  14. ^ "MASS ARRESTS AT THE AMSTERDAM EU-SUMMIT". FECL (51). June 1997. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  15. ^ Redacteuren, Onzer. "Kritiek rechtbank op arrestaties (Dutch)". NRC Handelsblad (18 June 1997). Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Amsterdam police raid linked to ETA - and "Eurojust"". Statewatch. 2002. Retrieved 15 April 2019.

External links[edit]