The Cloister Church, or Kloosterkerk, is a 14th century church located in the Lange Voorhout in The Hague. Aside from its historical significance, the church is also notable for having Queen Beatrix attend services on occasion.
The Church’s Early Days
The Cloister Church and its monastery were originally built in 1397 for the Dominicans in the city. In 1420, a fire nearly destroyed the church. It is believed that the church remained in a ruined state until the 16th century where serious renovations were recorded. During the renovations, the church was expanded to include a side chapel and a larger aisle. The worship space in the church would quickly become a pilgrimage church, whereas services were held in the center aisle. At the time, the structure was dedicated to St. Vincent, who was a Valencian Dominican missionary.
The church was stripped of its Catholic decorations in 1566 during the beeldenstorm. The last few monks remained in the church for a few years, but would finally leave in 1574. The church was then abandoned for 12 years and left in a state of ruin. In 1588, a cavalry company used the former church for shelter. The choir area would then be turned into a cannon foundry, while the rest of the church was used as a munition store. In 1690, the ammunition stored in the church exploded and nearly destroyed the entire monastery. Only one wall remained.
The monastery briefly served as a hospital before being nearly demolished. The Protestant church still remained. The building would become a church once again in 1617 and would go on to be used for Dutch reformist worship.
In 1625, Prince Frederick Henry and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels were married in Kloosterkerk. William III England also visited the church in 1691 after he was crowned. Margaret of Cleves was also buried in the church as well as the poet Jacob Cats. In fact, a memorial still stands today on one of the church’s interior pillars.
Visiting the Kloosterkerk
The Kloosterkerk is still used for worship today and is home to an active Protestant congregation. A cantata service is held on the last Sunday of every month in collaboration with the Residential Bach Choir, Residential Bach Orchestra and the Residential Chamber Orchestra. A mid-day concert is also held every first, third and fifth Wednesday of the month.
The church holds services every Sunday at 10:00AM. In addition to the church’s services, the Apostle Chapel allows for a quiet place where patrons can pray and meditate.