Westerkerk - Westertoren, Amsterdam

4 out of 5 stars 48 Reviews

Prinsengracht 281 +31-20-6247766
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    Westerkerk's Bell Tower ~ The Westertoren

    by starship Updated Jul 16, 2016

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I have decided to add the "Westertoren" or Westerkerk's Tower or Bell Tower as a separate tip because it almost seems to be a separate entity from the church, and it has some of its very own interesting features. While the Westerkerk church itself opened in 1631, the Westeroren opened in 1638, and at roughly 279 ft. you can imagine that it could be seen from a great distance. Anne Frank even mentioned the tower in her famous diary. It's said the tower is crooked but I did not notice this at close range.

    The three upper tiers which decrease in size with each tier of the tower are deceptive in their construction being either wood faced with sandstone or in the case of the uppermost sections, made of wood but covered by lead. My favorite feature is the Tower Bells or Carillon which plays each Tuesday from 12 noon to 1pm; unfortunately I did not hear the bells as we weren't in Amsterdam on a Tuesday! I would have loved to hear it and apparently residents of Amsterdam are also very fond of the tower and carrilon as well.

    With each of the three upper sections, the tower becomes more ornate -- the top tier topped with a crown, the next lower with a clock and the carrilon, and the next with a coat of arms topped by a crown edged in gilt painted blue, red, and with the three white crosses or "x" symbols on a black background which you see everywhere in Amsterdam. The x's are St. Andrew's Crosses, also known as "saltires." The meaning of the x's seems to be unclear and undocumented. Note above the shield in gold Roman numerals is the year which seems difficult to decipher but which I guess to mean 1637, the year when the tower was completed.

    One of the most popular attractions is climbing the tower to gain a panoramic view over the city. While it is free to visit the Westerkerk itself, climbing the tower will cost you 7 euros (2016 price).

    When you look at the first photo accompanying this tip, you see visitors on the balconies (they look tiny!) which will give you some perspective on how large the tower is.

    After our visit to Westerkerk, we took a local "Connexxion" bus to reach the Leidseplein area where the Hard Rock Cafe is located.

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    Westerkerk ~ Worth A Visit

    by starship Updated Jul 4, 2016

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    Overlooking the lovely Prinzengracht Canal, it's hard to miss the imposing edifice and soaring tower of the Westerkerk. Westerkerk was designed by Hendrick de Keyser and officially opened on Whitsunday, 1631. Built in the Dutch Renaissance style, but with Gothic elements, the original church took 11 years to build, but the 279 ft. tower was not completed until 1638. Unlike some other churches of the same vintage, the Westerkerk was purposely built as a Dutch Reform/Dutch Protestant church and remains so today.

    We visited the Westerkerk on a perfect day when sunlight streamed through the very large but delicate-looking Palladian windows so that the interior of the church was very bright with excellent conditions for photos. The long nave features stone-slab floors, and arched side aisles, with many multi-tiered brass chandeliers, and fine woodwork. Rather than a central cross or crucifix above an altar and wooden pews, Westerkerk is filled with movable chairs which are orientated in the direction of an ornate, wooden pulpit. Beneath the movable chairs, you'll see grave stones laid among the stone slabs of the floor. Look for the ornate medallion on the left side wall which commemorates the famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 - 1669), who is buried in the church but no one knows the exact location. The medallion was unveiled in 1906 on the 300th anniversary of his birth.

    One of the most recent additions to the interior of the church is the "The Burning Bush" which was displayed in December, 2007. It is a considered a sculpture and is designated as a very special "chapel' for prayer and reflection and visitors are invited to light a candle -- physically it is not a chapel or side altar. The Burning Bush is an area of the main floor set to the right side and it is actually designed to hold dozens and dozens of prayer candles. It was the idea of Reverend Fokkelien Oosterwijk, Vicar of Westerkerk, but was designed and executed by sculptor Hans 't Mannetje. It was put on display in December 2007 -- when we visited there were several people gathered around it.

    Please note the 2 interesting organs -- one a smaller choir organ sporting a lovely shade of green, and the more ornate main organ with pipes over the entrance to the church.

    The Westerkerk is open from Monday to Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. from April 1st to November 1st. And on Saturdays from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Sunday is reserved for church services. There is a small gift shop just inside the entrance to the right which sells postcards, books, and souvenirs -- the staff here are extremely pleasant, helpful and friendly!

    Admission to Westerkerk is free. However, there is a charge for climbing the Westerkerk's Tower or the Westertoren which is a popular activity so the Westertoren is the subject of my next tip.

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    Westerkerk

    by MM212 Updated Jan 7, 2015

    Located at the western end of the historic centre of Amsterdam, hence the name (Western Church in English), Westerkerk is the largest church in the city. It is also one of the first Protestant churches to be built as a Protestant church, rather than being converted from a Roman Catholic one (Holland was a the centre of the struggle between Catholics and Protestants). The structure was completed in 1631, but the 85m high tower, with its unique crown, was not finished until 1638. When I visited in 2014, the church was undergoing some restoration.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    Bell Tower's crown, March 2014 Westerkerk, March 2014 Westerkerk, March 2014 The eastern fa��ade, Dec 2014 From the northern side, Jan 2015
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  • MichaelFalk1969's Profile Photo

    Westerkerk

    by MichaelFalk1969 Updated Dec 22, 2013

    The protestant Westerkerk between Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht was built in 1631 and - with the highest bell tower of all Amsterdam churches - is a true landmark of the city. The interior is rather plain, but a hike up the church tower stairs will give you a great panoramic view of Amsterdam.

    Rembrandt and his lover Hendrieke Stoffels, and their son Titus, were all buried in the Westerkerk. If you take a close look at the tower spire, you will notice that it was fashioned after a crown. Medieval German emperor Maximilian allowed Amsterdam to carry his crown in the city`s coat of arms in 1489; it was also used as inspiration for the Westerkerk spire.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    Westerkerk

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  • swissfondue's Profile Photo

    My Amsterdam "Money Shot"

    by swissfondue Written Nov 22, 2013

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    This is my favourite photo looking down Prinsengracht canal. The reflections are stunning and show busy Amsterdam in a different, more mellow light.

    The majestic spire is part of Westerkerk which is one of the oldest and largest Protestant churches in the Netherlands.

    Address: Prinsengracht

    Directions: Anne Frank House is located close by at Prinsengracht 263-267.

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Beautiful Church Tower

    by von.otter Updated Jan 17, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    “He who allows oppression shares the crime.”
    — Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536, Dutch Catholic priest and theologian)

    Westerkerk, the oldest churches built specifically for the Protestant worship, was opened in 1631. It is one of the largest churches in the Netherlands.

    The people of Amsterdam are especially fond of the Westerkerk tower. Featured prominently on the tower is the imperial crown (see photos #3, #4 & #5) of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I of Austria (1450-1519). His Imperial Highness granted use of this symbold to the city in gratitude for its support given to the princes of the House of Hapsburg. The 279-foot tall tower, rising from the center of the west façade, was completed in 1638; it is Amsterdam’s tallest tower. The base of the tower, up to the first level, is built in brick, but the sections above this are made of wood and faced with sandstone. Further up, the sections are also made of wood and covered with lead.

    Rembrandt and his son Titus, were buried at Westerkerk. In 1966, Princess (now Queen) Beatrix and Prince Claus were married here. Anne Fank could see the tower of Westerkerk from her hide-away window; she drew inspiration from the sound of its bells.

    Admission to the Church is free. The guided tour of the tower is 3€.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Directions: Take tram #6, #13, #14, or #17 to Westermarkt.

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    Westerkerk, Amsterdam, April 2011 Westerkerk, Amsterdam, April 2011 Westerkerk, Amsterdam, April 2011 Westerkerk, Amsterdam, April 2011 Westerkerk, Amsterdam, April 2011
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    The Westerkerk

    by zadunajska8 Written Jan 15, 2012

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    Built in 1631 as the 2nd place of worship specifically established for protestants this church is elegant on the outside but plain and bare inside (as the Calvinist tradition would have demanded). This doesn't by any means mean that it isn't worth seeing inside - quite the opposite in fact! The interior of the church has a spacious and light feel to it which comes directly from the lack of ornamentation. The church is also reputed to be the final resting place of Rembrandt in his paupers grave, but no-one seems to know where exactly.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    The Westerkerk The Westerkerk The Westerkerk The Westerkerk The Westerkerk
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    Western Church

    by goodfish Written Dec 10, 2011

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    This 17th-century church has the distinction of being the largest and one of the first in the Netherlands to be originally constructed as a protestant house of worship. It has an elaborate bell tower that can be seen from all over the city, and Anne Frank wrote about listening to the carillon chime from her secret sanctuary nearby.

    In contrast to the airy but plain interior is an elaborate white-and-gold organ and carved pulpit with a large canopy. Tombstones pave much of the floor and under one of them - unmarked but commemorated by a memorial on the north aisle wall - lies the pauper's grave of Rembrandt van Rijn. The only one of his four children to survive to adulthood, son Titus, is also said to be buried in this church.

    Services are held every Sunday at 10:30, and the carillon plays on Tuesdays from 12:00 - 1:00. Visitors are welcome Monday-Friday, 11:00 - 3:00, April - October. Entrance is free but there's a 6€ fee to climb the tower. The church is also a venue for concerts and other events: you can check the schedule for some of those here.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl/index.php?page=welkom-en

    Old stone - Westerkerk
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  • lina112's Profile Photo

    Westerkerk

    by lina112 Updated Mar 9, 2011

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    Construction on the Westerkerk began in 1620, at the same time as the Noorderkerk. The initial designer was Hendrick de Keyser, whose son Pieter took over after his father's death in 1621. It is the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands. It was officially opened on the day of Pentecostes in 1631. Although no one knows the exact location known to the famous Rembrandt was buried here on October 8, 1669. Anne Frank mentions in his diary several times to the church and its tower, visible from the window of his refuge, and tells how the comforting music of bells. In the plaza outside the church is a statue in honor of Anne Frank.

    La construcción de la Westerkerk comenzó en 1620 al mismo tiempo que la Noorderkek. El diseño fue de Hendrick de Keyser pero tras morir en 1621 su hijo Pieter le relevó. Es la iglesia protestante más grande de toda Holanda. Fue inaugurada oficialmente durante el día de petencostes del año 1631. Aunque no se conoce el lugar exacto, se sabe que el célebre Rembrandt fue sepultado aquí el 8 de octubre de 1669. Ana Frank menciona en su diario varias veces a la iglesia y a su torre, visible desde la ventana de su refugio, y cuenta cómo la reconfortaba la música de las campanas. En la plaza frente a la iglesia hay una estatua en honor a Ana Frank.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Directions: Tram num 13,14,17 Stop Westermark

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

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    Free lunchtime Music at the Westerkerk

    by dustmon Written Jan 3, 2011

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    At times they have free lunchtime concerts inside the Westerkerk---this past trip I saw and organist and a lovely Soprano singing at a 1PM show. There are more than one organ in the sanctuary and this green one was delightful!
    Check places like Timeout magazine for times and days.....

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    Organist
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  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo

    De Keizerskroon (The crown of the emperor)

    by pieter_jan_v Updated Dec 25, 2010

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    The Westerkerk was officially opened on Whitsunday 1631. It is built for Protestant services and is the the biggest Protestant church in the Netherlands.
    The tower bears the "golden" symbol of the imperial crown of Maximilian of Austria (Keizerskroon), which was his gift to the city in gratitude for support given tot the Austro-Burgundian princes. Rembrandt, one of the world’s most famous painters, was burried in the church.

    Visiting hours: Monday till Friday 11AM - 3PM (April - September).

    Church services (in Dutch) Sundays 10.30AM.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Directions: South of the DAM square

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    Westerkerk - Amsterdam De Wester Westerkerk - Amsterdam Westerkerk De Keizerskroon
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    Climbing the Westerkerk

    by dustmon Written Jul 31, 2010

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    Try to go when you can get a good view from the top---it takes a few minutes of climbing but a really cool view of the city from the open top area. I think it costs 5 euros to climb.
    The church itself is very nice---they have free lunchtime concerts on occasion so check local arts magazines for more info on that---last trip I heard an incredible soprano sing along with one of the organs in the church, and all for free! There is one of the fresh herring stands just outside if you get hungry.
    also notice the tram goes right next to it with a stop nearby.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    Westerkerk across from Anne Frank House downstream
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  • MATIM's Profile Photo

    Westerkerk

    by MATIM Updated Feb 27, 2009

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    The Netherlands's most renowned church has been the source of inspiration for many musicians. The famous tower was completed in 1638; its bells manufactured by the renowned François Hemony foundry in 1658. Though the Protestant community owned the church, the tower was the property of the local authorities and served as a lookout. This marks the site of Rembrandt's burial, as well as the marriage of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus.
    For Anne Frank the ringing of the clock was a beacon of hope during WWII.
    you can climb the tower until 60 metres to have a wonderful view over the city.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Directions: near Anne Frank house

    open hours:
    11a-3p M-F Apr-Sep, Service: 10:30a Su

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

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  • spanishguy's Profile Photo

    Westerkerk, the tallest church

    by spanishguy Updated Sep 7, 2008

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    The Westerkerk ("western church") is a Protestant church, built in 1620-1631. Its spire is the highest church tower in Amsterdam, at 85 meters. It has a crown topping the spire which is the Imperial Crown of Austria of Maximilian I. Rembrandt was buried here in 1669 and there are also more painters buried here. In addition the Queen Beatrix I of the Netherlands (then Princess Beatrix) married Prince Claus von Amsberg in this church.

    The church is right next to Amsterdam's Jordaan district, at the bank of the Prinsengracht canal. The church is also located close to the Anne Frank House where she, her family and others hid from Nazi persecution for two years during World War II. The Westerkerk is mentioned frequently in her diary. That's why there is a memorial statue of Frank is located outside the church.

    La Westerkerk ("Iglesia occidental") es una iglesia protestante construida entre 1620 y 1631. Su campanario es la torre de iglesia más alta de Ámsterdam, con 85 metros, la cual está rematada por una Corona Imperial de Maximiliano I de Austria (presente en el escudo de la ciudad). Rembrandt fue enterrado aquí en 1669, al igual que otros pintores conocidos. Por otro lado, la Reina Beatriz I de los Países Bajos (entonces Princesa Beatriz) se casó con el Príncipe Claus von Amsberg en esta iglesia.

    La iglesia está junto al distrito Jordaan, a orillas del canal Prinsengracht. También está cerca la casa de Ana Frank, donde ella se escondió durante la persecución nazi de la II Guerra Mundial durante dos años, junto a su familia y otras personas. Menciona el Westerkerk en su famoso diario con bastante frecuencia y por eso que hay una estatua dedicada a Frank fuera de la iglesia.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    The crowned tower The Westerkerk The Westerkerk Prinsengracht canal and the church tower Me next to the Anne Frank memorial
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    Westerkerk (the Western Church)

    by yooperprof Written Aug 12, 2008

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    Built in 1631 (architect Hendrick de Keyser), the Westerkerk still dominates the "Jordaan" neighborhood it presides over. The 278 feet (85 meter) high tower sways a little bit in the wind, but they tell me that tall buildings are _supposed_ to have a little give and take.

    The story goes that painter Rembrandt (and his son Titus) are buried here - though no one is quite sure where, as the painter was bankrupt (and rather disgraced) at the time of his death. Amsterdam has always been a busy place - you can't expect the city to note _every_ genius who happens to live here!

    The baroque solidity of the Westerkerk adds a feeling of permanence to this part of the city - and it is a silent solemn witness to the nearby Anne Frank house as well.

    Address: Prinsengracht 281

    Phone: +31-20-6247766

    Website: http://www.westerkerk.nl

    dark tower
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