Westerkerk is a Dutch Protestant church in the heart of Amsterdam. This 17th century church is the largest of its kind in the city and its name means “Western Church” in English. It’s located right next to the Jordaan district and along the banks of the Prinsengracht.
Many of the Protestant churches in Amsterdam, like Nieuwe Kerk and Oude Kerk, first served as Catholic churches and were later converted. What makes the Westerkerk so unique is that it was one of the first churches that were purposely built to serve the Protestant faith.
Westerkerk was constructed somewhere around 1620 and was designed by Hendrick de Keyser, a late Renaissance architect. The church’s western tower, Westertoren, stands at 279 feet and is the tallest church tower in Amsterdam. Atop the spire is the crown of Maximilian I. Its bells were constructed by Francois Hemony.
Westerkerk is one of the city’s most notable churches mainly because Rembrandt van Rijn was buried here in 1669. While the location of his grave is still unknown, historians believe it is located along the northern wall. A memorial plaque inside of the church honors the great painter. Rembrandt’s son Titus van Rijn and his lover Hendrickje Stoffels are also buried here. A number of other painters are also buried at Westerkerk and the church’s organ doors were painted by Gerard de Lairesse. Former Queen Beatrix was also married at Westerkerk in 1966.
The church’s location is close to the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk was mentioned quite a few times in her diary. She could see the building’s clock tower from the attic. For Anne, the sound of the church bells brought her great comfort. A memorial statue is located outside of the church in remembrance of her.
Visiting the Church
Westerkerk is open to the public six days a week (Monday – Saturday) from 10AM until 3PM. On Sunday, the church is only open for service.
The church tower is also open to visitors between the months of April and October and costs 7 Euros to climb. Guided tours are available for an additional fee. More information on tours can be found on the church’s website.
Westerkerk also hosts several concerts throughout the year and can be rented for weddings, receptions, concerts and a variety of other events. The church is well-known for its summer concert series and is a definite must-see for any tourist visiting Amsterdam.
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