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Westerkerk - Westertoren Tips (48)

Westerkerk's Bell Tower ~ The Westertoren

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.

starship's Profile Photo
Jul 16, 2016

Westerkerk ~ Worth A Visit

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.

starship's Profile Photo
Jul 04, 2016


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.

MM212's Profile Photo
Jan 07, 2015


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.

MichaelFalk1969's Profile Photo
Dec 22, 2013
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Hotels Near Westerkerk - Westertoren

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My Amsterdam "Money Shot"

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.

swissfondue's Profile Photo
Nov 22, 2013

Beautiful Church Tower

“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€.

von.otter's Profile Photo
Jan 17, 2012

The Westerkerk

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.

zadunajska8's Profile Photo
Jan 15, 2012

Western Church

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.

goodfish's Profile Photo
Dec 10, 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.

lina112's Profile Photo
Mar 09, 2011

Free lunchtime Music at the Westerkerk

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.....

dustmon's Profile Photo
Jan 03, 2011

De Keizerskroon (The crown of the emperor)

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.

pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo
Dec 25, 2010

Climbing the Westerkerk

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.

dustmon's Profile Photo
Jul 31, 2010

Things To Do Near Westerkerk - Westertoren

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Getting to Westerkerk - Westertoren


Prinsengracht 281


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