Located alongside a canal in the Red Light District, the Oude Kerk (Old Church) is the oldest monument in Amsterdam. Its large interior is quite interesting to explore, with painted ceilings, a huge organ, and amusingly carved choir stalls.
History of the Oude Kerk
Construction on the Oude Kerk began in 1250 and was finally completed with the extension of the bell tower in 1566. During the Alteration of 1578, Protestant reformers confiscated the church and destroyed much of its Catholic ornamentation.
What to See at the Oude Kerk
Inside, the Oude Kerk has three naves and a very spacious feel, the latter thanks to the Calvinist simplification. The vaulted wooden ceiling bears faded paintings dating from throughout the 1400s and 1500s, depicting various saints, ships, biblical scenes and coats of arms.
The floor is paved with rectangular slabs for memorials, each with its own number. Rembrandt's wife is memorialized on vault 28K, which bears the simple inscription "Saskia Juni 1642."
A further highlight of the interior is an impressive organ from 1728 by Christian Müller that is regularly used for recitals. And don't miss the inscription over the entrance to the marriage chapel, which warns: 't is haest getrout dat lange rout ("Marry in haste, repent at leisure").
One decorative remnant of the Catholic Oude Kerk that escaped Calvinist destruction is the choir with its misericords ("mercy seats" to assist singers as they stand for long periods) dating from about 1480. As in many medieval churches, these are decorated with wooden carvings depicting everyday life, humorous scenes and many illustrations of proverbs and popular sayings, such as:
The church tower can be climbed on an hourly guided tour for good views of Old Amsterdam.
The pretty almshouses that surround the Oude Kerk now contain red-fringed windows displaying the scantily clad women of the Red Light District.
Quick Facts on the Oude Kerk
|Names:||Nicolaaskerk · Oude Kerk|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||52.374374° N, 4.898239° E|
|Hours:||Church: Mon-Sat 11am-5pm; Sun 1-5pm |
Tower: Jun-Sep: Wed-Sun 2-4pm; Sep-Apr: Sun-Fri 1-5pm, Sat 11-5pm
Closed Jan 1, Apr 30.
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Oude Kerk|
- Personal visits (November 2006 and August 2008).
- Official Website
- Frommer's Amsterdam
- Fodor's Amsterdam
- Photos of the Oude Kerk - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Oude Kerk. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.