Old Church - Oude Kerk, Amsterdam

43 Reviews

Oudekerksplein 23 +31-20-6258284

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • Sitting between two chairs.
    Sitting between two chairs.
    by breughel
  • Misericords in Oude Kerk.
    Misericords in Oude Kerk.
    by breughel
  • Spinning pig.
    Spinning pig.
    by breughel
  • mightywease's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk (Old Church)

    by mightywease Written Jul 16, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Oude Kerk Tower

    The Oude Kerk (Old Church) stands rather incongruously in the Red Light district of Amsterdam. Built in the 14th century as a replacement for an earlier wooden structure and dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Given Amsterdam’s standing as a port and a centre of commerce perhaps it is no surprise that the church was dedicated to the patron Saint of, amongst other things, pawnbrokers, merchants, water and sailors. The church escaped the fire of 1452, which destroyed much of the city and in 1565 the churches tower was built.
    The interior of the church is large and quite spartan with its stone floor and plain walls, which I imagine provide a good backdrop to the exhibitions the church sometimes hosts. Decoration is in the form of some interesting stained glass windows, the ornamented organ, the vaulted ceiling and – my favourite – the carved wooden choir stalls some illustrating sayings and proverbs.

    Entrance Fee is about 4 euros each

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Architecture
    • Backpacking

    Was this review helpful?

  • leafmcgowan's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk

    by leafmcgowan Written Apr 30, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    1 more image

    The Oude Kerk is the oldest parish church in Amsterdam. It was consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht and is located in the De Wallen, Amsterdam's main red-light district. The church spans over 3,000 square meters. Its foundation was set upon an artificial mound. Its roof is the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe. The floor is primarily gravestones as the church was built atop a cemetery. The planks are Estonian and date to 1390. The church has gone through numerous renovations through its history. The first set of alterations occured in the 1350's where the aisles were lengthened and wrapped around the choir in a half circle to support the structure. During the 15th century, the north and south transepts were added creating a cross formation. This work was completed in 1460. Before the Alteratie or "Reformation" in 1578 the Church was primarily "Catholic". The Church then became Protestant. The 16th century saw many battles leading to the Church becoming looted and defaced. It became a public space where the locals gossiped, peddlers selling their wares, beggars sought shelter, but in 1681 the Calvinists fed up with the homeless kicked them out. The Church was closed off with a brass screen. Then the Church became a center for the registry of marriages, followed by the city archives. Local citizens continued to be buried underneath the church up until 1865 with a total count of 2500 graves containing over 10,000 Amsterdam citizens. Pipe organs were built in 1658 with the cabinet organ constructed in 1767. The third was built by the German Christian Vater in 1724 establishing the finest baroque organs in Europe. Today, many concerts are performed here including the BBC Singers and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. This is now a center for both religious and cultural activities and can be rented for presentations, receptions, and dinner parties.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Archeology

    Was this review helpful?

  • Rupanworld's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk

    by Rupanworld Written Feb 2, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Unfortunately I did not take a photo as I could not decide upon a good angle to take the photo from. It is situated alongside the canal in the Red Light District of amsterdam. It is the oldest building in Amsterdam, dating back to 1250 AD. It has beautiful inside decor in wood.

    Was this review helpful?

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    What’s Old is New

    by von.otter Updated Oct 1, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Oudekerk, Amsterdam, April 2011
    4 more images

    “I was disgusted with the nakedness and meanness of the Protestant churches of Holland.”
    — an August 1815 entry from “Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence” 1869 by Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867)

    The Old Church is in the heart of Amsterdam, right on the ramparts. It is the oldest building in the city, founded by fishermen on the River Amstel. Sadly we could not see what Mr. Robinson was complaining about for the church was closed when we passed by.

    The Bishop of Utrecht consecrated the church to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, on 17.September.1306. A hundred years later Amsterdam’s population had grown; a new church was built on the Dam: The New Church. St. Nicholas Church came to be called The Old Church.

    In addition to religious services, Saint Nicholas Church was also used for worldly things. The fishermen repaired their nets and sails here. It was a lively meeting place for residents and merchants, where they exchanged views and walking around during an organ concert. Because of these different functions, the church was nicknamed the “Living Room of Amsterdam.”

    After the Protestant Reformation, when there was an iconoclastic cleansing of the church, little remained in the church that recalled the Roman Catholic faith but the building itself. Icons were smashed, altars removed, murals painted over, the ceremonial silver was looted or melted down. The Reformed Dutch faith was now the state religion and Catholics were forced to hold services in secret churches.

    Rembrandt’s marriage to Saskia van Uylenburgh took place in the Old Church.

    Oudekerk the tower is the oldest tower in the city. Climbing the tower is made under the guidance of an experienced guide. The tower is open for visits from April to September, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 13:00 - 17:00, every half hour a climb will start.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sswagner's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk

    by sswagner Written Dec 24, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Oude Kerk

    Set in the middle of the Red Light District (a real paradox), this large church is worth a look. there is a nominal admission fee to explore the large interior. There is an impressive organ inside as will as several gravestones on the floor. This is one of the oldest churches in the city.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • OlafS's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk ('old church')

    by OlafS Updated Oct 20, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Amsterdam: Oude Kerk

    The original Gothic St. Nicolaaskerk, nowadays known by its Protestant name of Oude Kerk (Old Church) is Amsterdam's oldest building, although its looks have changed drastically ever since it was built, the tower in Renaissance style being just one of many changes. You can go inside, but they'll charge you FOUR euros! I love churches, but this is ridiculous. Of course every church needs to be maintained but charging four euros is just taking advantage. But if you don't think four euros is much to ask for a few graves and an old organ, go ahead.
    For those who care to know; this church is at an end of the so-called Red Light District, where women who sit or stand behind glass doors might invite you to come in to spend some "quality time". If you're a man, that is. Even if you only want to take some pictures of this church, they might try to distract you. Very annoying. Better not point your camera in the direction of the ladies, it could be the last thing you ever did with it.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • zadunajska8's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk

    by zadunajska8 Written Jan 15, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Oude Kerk
    4 more images

    There has been a church on this site since the 13th century, but most of the current building is from the 14th century when it became a place of pilgrimage following stories of a miracle. The story was that a dying man regurgitated the host that he had taken at communion in this church earlier that day and when it was thrown upon the fire it wouldn't burn. So naturally this was made a medieval tourist attraction by the church and people flocked to see the unburnable vomit and provided the money to build the current church. The relic itself has long since gone after being lost during the reformation.

    The location of the church in the middle of Amsterdam's red light district is a little perculiar with an information centre about prostitution just over the road! The church is attractive outside but much more evocative inside. Thanks to the reformation the church is not over decorated and in fact much of the interior is pretty sparce on ornamentation, which enables you to enjoy the space inside and appreciate the arches and construction of the design. There are some excellent stained glass windows and climbing the tower provides good views over - well, the red light district.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • mightywease's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk Carvings

    by mightywease Written Jul 16, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Carving in the Oude Kerk

    The choir stalls of the Oude Kirk are carved with small vignettes many of which represent proverbs or sayings – the one represented in the picture is, according to the interesting official website (www.oudekerk.nl) “It’s like trying to out-yawn an oven door’: A person can’t yawn as wide as an oven door, i.e. don’t try to accomplish the impossible”.
    Look out for the one that represents “money doesn’t grow on trees”. Let’s just say that the money isn’t falling out of a tree but out of someone’s.. I shall let you guess!

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Backpacking
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • a5floor's Profile Photo

    De Oude Kerk / The Old Church part I

    by a5floor Updated Oct 10, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    De Oude Kerk / The Old Church
    4 more images

    In the weekend of 11 and 12 September 2010 there was a 'open monument weekend'. A lot of buildings (like churches) were open for the public. Me and Dusty went to the Oude Kerk (old church). The entrance fare was € 5.00 per person. You will get an information sheet about what is waht in the church. This way you will have a good perspective of what all means. While we were in the church, somebody played the organ. Which was nice to hear.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    The misericords

    by goodfish Updated Jan 16, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Mythological Bird Siren
    3 more images

    I'm giving these special mention as they're virtually unknown in my young country and a welcome bit of whimsy in an otherwise austere environment.

    In European medieval times, Catholic church services were frequent and lengthy and the clergy were required to remain on their feet for long periods of time. This was difficult for the old and/or infirm and this device came about to make all that standing a little less punishing.

    Seats, usually in the choir (quire), were made with hinges so that they could be flipped up and a carved ledge was attached to the underside which provided a perch to rest the backside on. What's so appealing about them is that because of the rather undignified part of the person they served, the imagery worked into these "acts of mercy" was seldom of religious nature. Themes include fables, mythical beasts, floral decoration, parables or just scenes from everyday life. Their secular subject matter is sometimes the reason they thankfully survived the stripping of sacred iconography during reformational eras.

    Based on the clothing style portrayed on human figures, the misericords of Oude Kerk are thought to be late 15th century (pre-Alteration) and are delightfully funny, irreverent and a fascinating peek at life of that time.

    Click on this link for a look at the complete collection and the meanings they convey. The church also provides an on-site guide that you can use during your visit.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • yooperprof's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk - the Old Church

    by yooperprof Written Aug 13, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    The Old Church is one of the most fascinating places in the entire city, because it is so much of a perfect analogy of the ways in which history is made up of stratum upon stratum of detail and inspiration and metaphor. It's one of the very oldest structures in the entire city - parts of it dating back to the early 14th century. But of course it contains elements of virtually every other century and time period since then.

    In order to find the Oude Kerk you have to go into the heart of the Red Light District. And indeed, the neighborhood around the church has been "seedy" for centuries, which helps explain the aura of decay which is such a basic character of the place. Moreover, the medieval roots of the church are themselves layered - like the "core" of an onion - underneath the accretions of 17th and 18th century additions beyond. Today, much of the Oude Kerk feels neglected and forgotten - it is a very big space, and you can tell that the keepers of this place have their hands absolutely full just keeping it running, much less attempting any kind of full-scale restoration.

    But as the Red Light District metamorphosizes in the 21st century, perhaps the future of the Oude Kerk will bring some increased funding and a little more attention.

    Was this review helpful?

  • malianrob's Profile Photo

    The Old Church/Oude Kerk

    by malianrob Updated Nov 25, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is a 14th century gothic style church. It used to be a catholic church called St Nicholas's Church. It is now a Dutch reform or Protestant church. St Nicholas was the patron saint of Amsterdam and of sailors and of this church. As a matter of fact, when sailors saw the church frolmfar away on the ocean they knew they would be home soon and it brought them a sense of comfort. The construction of this church was started in 1250 and completed in 1566.
    There is a tour of the church every hour and you can climb the church tower and get some nice views of Amsterdam. Most famous though is the 1728 open organ that is still in use today. Another interesting fact is that Rembrandts wife is entombed here.

    Was this review helpful?

  • eden_teuling's Profile Photo

    CLIMB THE TOWER OF THIS CHURCH.........

    by eden_teuling Written Jan 24, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    BELLS IN THE OLD CHURCH AMSTERDAM...

    The Old Church is the oldest stone building in Amsterdam and thus also the oldest monument.
    It is located in the area from which Amsterdam began to grow outwards into its present form.
    REMBRANDT went there to give notice of his forthcoming marriage to his first wife, Saskia, who was buried under one of the church's 2,500 grave stones. The Church boasts beautiful stained-glass windows dating back from 1550 and the world-famous VATER-MüLLER organ.

    In 1951 the Oude Kerk had to close its doors because it was in danger of collapsing.

    Its restoration took 24 years and the building is now open to the public again.

    It is mainly used for concerts and exhibitions.

    On OPEN MONUMENTENDAG I climbed the tower and met with these bells...........

    I can recommend this climb to you!! It is so rewarding....

    Was this review helpful?

  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo

    De Oude Kerk

    by pieter_jan_v Written May 6, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Oude Kerk - Amsterdam

    De Oude Kerk or Old Church is the oldest Amsterdam monument. It dates back to 1275.
    The church was devoted to Saint Nicolas, the bisshop of Myra by Guy van Avesnes, bisshop of Utrecht. Through the ages the church was known as the St. NIcolas church until the new St. Nicolas church was build in 1884-1887.

    The building started as a wooden church, but soon was replaced by a stone building that was expanded through the centuries.

    In the last quarter of the 20th centyry the church was renovated completely.
    In september 2006 the church was 700 years in sevrice and this celebrated in a big way.

    In the floor of the church there are many gravestones of famous Dutchmen.

    Rembrandt married in this church in the so-called Spiegelzaal (mirror room).

    Opening hours:
    Mo-Sa: 11AM - 5PM
    Su: 1PM - 5PM

    Admission: € 8,00 (adult)

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • June.b's Profile Photo

    Oude Kerk

    by June.b Written Jun 20, 2010

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    Literally translated as "old church" and so is the oldest church of amsterdam located right on the red light district. There are thousands of famous personalities buried on this church, indeed, the church itself is constructed in a cemetery - rings a bell - remember the poltergeist movie?

    Ironically (or is it?), the church is surrounded by prostitutes on windows. I think our guide was right about the logic in there - prostitute + church = forgiveness of sins right at your doorstep! Who would have thought?

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Backpacking
    • Adventure Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Amsterdam

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

80 travelers online now

Comments

View all Amsterdam hotels