My neck is stiff, my heart humbled, and my daily dosage of_ Vogelen _satiated. I wrote this as a series of scribbles while (mostly) sitting in the main hall of the Royal Palace. At the time, I thought I was reflecting fairly upon the history of this city and nation. In hindsight, as I type this, I think I was just grumpy and let down with how we, in the West, recall our histories. We are reluctant to know the stories, wishing more to fill our heads with other stories we deem to be of more importance. The name "Pigeons by the Palace" is in reference to some reflections on the 335+ flock of pigeons often found at Dam Square. The reflections are wonky and will be retained for another time. I kept the name, however, because upon returning to the square after being in the Palace proper for any period of time, it is hard to not look at one's fellow man and think that we are all merely pigeons by a mighty palace. And there is a beauty to that realisation, I think.

The Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam or "Palace on the Dam".

Built in 1655 and designed by Jacob van Campen and Daniël Stalpaert, the building, directly across from Het Nationaal Monument op de Dam, stands overlooking what some would call the heart of the Global Village. After some asbestos removal in the mid-00s, the palace has been open to visitors since 2009. I decided to put my museumkaart to good use this Sunday, and after a Reformed Sermon, headed inside for some writing and people watching.

SPQA - Senatus Populusque Amstelodami

Though the audio tour is free, and thorough in its education, I elected to wander through the halls without it. Aimless, no map in hand, and only my pen and notebook should my attention fray. Having a museumpas, I enjoy frequenting such museums for a mere 90 minutes or so (or, the perfect length of a good film).

Having rid myself of such expectations of an audiotour and restraints of a time window, I was able to appreciate the details that seem to be largely ignored. I stand in front of a side door for a few minutes, trying to identify the flowers depicted, and only then notice the intricate depiction of a cornucopia filled with New World produce in the small marble arch just above.

I sit for roughly 25 45 minutes in the main hall and observe how dwarfing opulence and beauty affects the tourists, audio tours around their necks and camera (phones) in hand. Once upon a time we would bow before that which moves us. Now, it seems the same impulse is realised by reaching for one's mobile phone.

As the persons ebb and flow in waves, it is the minutes of calm in the hall that I really enjoy. It is none too quiet, as I find the tapping footsteps and faint chirps of others' audio tours to be the blood flow of any such palace. However, the lulls in buzzing let me reflect more clearly upon what this building is and not what it was or could be.

It is a story of the performance, pomp and power of the once great Kingdom of the Netherlands.

It is a valued asset to both crown and state and an offering of aesthetics and action to Amsterdammers, temporary or otherwise.

It is in need of some repairs. Multiple instances of chipped marble, more than two dozen cracked tiles, and some electric work could not hurt either.

Maybe it is a mirror of this goofy city outside. Once Grand, with a Head full of Myths and Glory, and now merely On Display to anyone with an extra 12,50 EUR. The cracks are more apparent every week, but one can easily assume that it is part of its purpose.

I hope these stones and portraits can continue to inspire Greatness and Creativity, even if our versions of both would likely be unrecognizable to those who built these halls. But even knowing the stories around, it is impossible to feel any real connection.

A Dutch family I speak with briefly appear to feel the same - though judging by the accent, the wife was from the South.

I hope these countless photos and recordings are rewatched, sharing with others the grandeur and genius the Lowlands were once capable of. But, deep down, as I return to my flock of citygoers awaiting and abreeze in the square, I know this is just my blind optimism speaking.