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  4. Oude Kerk

Oude Kerk, Amsterdam

Exterior of the Oude Kerk. View all images in our Oude Kerk Photo Gallery.
Interior of the Oude Kerk.
Painted wooden ceiling (15th-16th cent).
Detail of painted ceiling: Pieta on a ship.
The Oude Kerk's grand organ (1728).
Misericord: "Sail when the wind allows."
Misericord: "Money doesn't fall out of my arse."

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.


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

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

Site Information
Names:Nicolaaskerk; Oude Kerk; Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
State:North Holland
Faiths:Christianity; Catholic; Calvinist
Feat:Gothic Murals; Misericords
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Amsterdam, Netherlands
Coordinates:52.374374° N, 4.898239° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the Oude Kerk

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.


  1. Personal visits (November 2006 and August 2008).
  2. Official Website
  3. Frommer's Amsterdam
  4. Fodor's Amsterdam

More Information

Article Info

Title:Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:09/07/2010
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/netherlands/amsterdam-oude-kerk/netherlands/amsterdam-oude-kerk">Oude Kerk, Amsterdam</a>