The Oude Kerk (old church) is Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church, consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint.
After the Reformation in 1578 it became a Calvinist church, which it remains today. It stands in De Wallen, now Amsterdam's main red-light district. The square surrounding the church is the Oudekerksplein.
A wooden chapel stood at the location of today's Oude Kerk but it was replaced by a stone chapel. The church has seen a number of renovations performed by 15 generations of Amsterdam citizens. The church stood for only half a century before the first alterations were made, the aisles lengthened and wrapped around the choir in a half circle to support the structure. Not long after the turn of the 15th century, north and south transepts were added to the church creating a cross formation. Work on these renovations was completed in 1460, though it is likely that progress was largely interrupted by the great fires that besieged the city in 1421 and 1452.
Before the Alteratie, or Reformation in Amsterdam of 1578, the Oude Kerk was Roman Catholic. Following William the Silent’s defeat of the Spanish in the Dutch Revolt, the church was taken over by the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church. In 1681 the choir was closed off with a brass screen. Above the screen is the text, “The false practices gradually introduced into God’s church, were here undone again in the year seventy eight,” referring to the Reformation in 1578. In the same year, the Oude Kerk became home to the registry of marriages. It was also used as the city archives, the most important documents locked in a chest covered with iron plates and painted with the city’s coat of arms. The chest was kept safe in the iron chapel.
Rembrandt was a frequent visitor to the Oude Kerk and his children were all christened here. It is the only building in Amsterdam that remains in its original state since Rembrandt walked its halls. In the Holy Sepulchre is a small Rembrandt exhibition, a shrine to his wife “Saskia” van Uylenburgh who was buried here in 1782.
The church covers an area of some 3,300 square meters. The foundations were set on an artificial mound, thought to be the most solid ground of the settlement in this marshy province. The roof of the Oude Kerk is the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe. The Estonian planks date back to 1390 and boast some of the best acoustics in Europe. The floor consists entirely of gravestones. The reason for this is that the church was built on a cemetery. Local citizens continued to be buried on the site within the confines of the church until 1865. There are 2500 graves in the Oude Kerk, under which are buried 10,000 Amsterdam citizen.
There are three pipe organs in the Oude Kerk, the old church organ built in 1658 and the cabinet organ built in 1767. The third organ was built by the German Christian Vater in 1724 and is regarded as one of the finest baroque organs in Europe. It was acknowledged by the church Commissioners as “perfect.” Today the Oude Kerk is a centre for both religious and cultural activities and can be rented for presentations, receptions and dinner parties. Among the events hosted is the prestigious annual World Press Photo awards ceremony. Many concerts are performed here, including ones by the BBC Singers and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Part of the Oudekerksplein, the square surrounding the church, is used by prostitutes who offer their services from behind windows. The street also features a bronze relief of a hand caressing a breast that was set in the cobblestone at night by an anonymous artist. In March 2007 a bronze statue named Belle honoring the prostitutes of the world was also installed there.
|Price||normal : 5.00 child : 0.00 (age <13) youth : 4.00 (age 13<) student : 4.00 (age <26) retired : 4.00 (age 65<)|
|Geographical coordinates||52.3741638, 4.8979224|
|Address||1012 Amsterdam, Oudekerksplein 23|
|More information||official website|