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Oude Kerk: Amsterdam’s Red Light District Church

Oude Kerk Amsterdam

Oude Kerk is the oldest building in Amsterdam and is also the oldest parish church in the city. Although the church was founded in 1213, it was not consecrated by the bishop of Utrecht until 1306. Saint Nicolas is Oude Kerk’s patron saint. Today, the building is used for both religious and cultural activities.

Oude Kerk History

Oude Kerk Amsterdam - OrgelOude Kerk began as a wooden chapel in 1213. The original structure stood in the same place as the present day Oude Kerk stands. A stone church would replace the wooden chapel in 1306 and finally become consecrated that same year. Throughout history, the church has experienced a number of renovations through 15 generations of Amsterdam citizens. The first renovations took place only 50 years after the church was constructed. During this time, the aisles were extended to wrap around the choir area and provide support for the structure. Transepts were added at the turn of the 15th century.

Oude Kerk was originally Roman Catholic, but was taken over by the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church. During the 16th century, the church was vandalized and looted a number of times. A mob destroyed the church’s decorations during the Beeldenstorm of 1566. Among the destroyed fittings was an altarpiece painted by Jan van Scorel and Maarten van Heemskerck.

After the Reformation, the church became a registry of marriages and was also used to house the city archives. Important documents were locked inside of an iron plated chest inside of the church.

Among the church’s most famous patrons was Rembrandt and his children. In fact, all of his children were christened here. Among all of the city’s buildings, Oude Kerk is the only one that still remains in the same state as it did when Rembrandt walked its halls.

Visiting the Church

The church is located in De Wallen, Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Oude Kerk is a short walk from the Central Station and Dam Square.

Oude Kerk is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10AM until 6PM. On Sunday, the church is open from 1PM until 5PM due to religious services. Admission price is 7,50 Euros. Guided tours are also available.

The church’s tower can be climbed, but only with a guide. Guided tours of the tower are only available between the months of April and September on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1PM until 5PM. Admission price is 7 Euros. More information on visiting hours and tours can be found on the Oude Kerk website.


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