The Oude Church, or Oude Kerk, is a historic landmark and cultural treasure nestled in the heart of Amsterdam's vibrant Red Light District. Dating back to the 13th century, it is the oldest surviving building in the city and holds immense historical and architectural significance.
This magnificent Gothic church boasts a serene and solemn atmosphere, captivating visitors with its stunning stained glass windows, ornate wooden ceilings, and intricate details. The church is home to a remarkable organ, one of the finest in the country, which still graces the space with its heavenly melodies during occasional concerts and performances.
Apart from its architectural marvels, the Oude Church is also renowned for its rich cultural offerings. The church frequently hosts art exhibitions and installations that creatively blend contemporary works with the historical surroundings, creating a unique juxtaposition of the old and the new. This dynamic fusion of art and history breathes new life into the sacred space, making it a captivating destination for both locals and tourists.
Additionally, the Oude Church is a site of historical significance. It serves as the resting place of prominent figures from Amsterdam's past, with elaborately adorned tombs and memorials dotting the interior. Visitors can discover the stories and legacies of these individuals while wandering through the hallowed halls.
A visit to the Oude Church offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city streets, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in centuries of history, marvel at architectural wonders, and contemplate the intertwining of art, spirituality, and culture.
The Oude Church Amsterdam has long been associated with musical organs, and already had an organ against the tower wall in the 15th century. This organ used to be frequently played by the Dutch composer Jan Sweelink for many decades together. Today, the church has a total of two pipe organs - Vater Muller and Transeptorgel. You can definitely visit and explore these organs, and can also experience them live during concerts and church services like the ‘Silence’.
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This is a spectacular and incredible masterpiece by the Dutch painter Emmanuel de Witte. It is a painting representing the interior nave of the Oude Church Amsterdam, and took around 15 years to be completed. The painting was done by Emmanuel de Witte using his own perceptions, and doesn't really represent the true architecture. Yet, the painting is spectacular in its own sense.
The stained glass windows of the Oude Church Amsterdam represent in a spectacular way a number of biblical stories. The church has countless stained glass window works, but many fell victim to the 16th century Dutch and European iconoclasm. However, the windows of Marian Chapel luckily survived, and today attract a number of visitors. To admire the glass windows’ beauty at its finest, make sure to visit the church on a bright sunny day.
The nave of the church is marked by two sets of wooden choir stalls, which were built in the start of the 16th century. The southern stalls are fifteen in number, and the northern ones are 21 in number. These choir stalls are separated by handrails, and have a number of misericordes below them. These misericordes depict a number of figurines themed around humour.
The Mirror Room is a side room in Oude Kerk, with walls adorned by beautiful mediaeval European paintings. The beautiful painting covers almost the entire room, including doors and gives an exhilarating experience to visitors. It is themed on nature and depicts birds, flowers and plants and was earlier used as an office for matrimonial affairs. It is currently under renovation and you won't be able to access it.
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Apart from being known for its magnificent interiors and art works, the Oude Kerk also holds a legacy for housing the graves of Jan Sweelinck. He was a renowned Dutch musician and composer, and used to play the organ of Oude Church on a regular basis. With consistent efforts, he popularised his music which still echoes in the church halls today. Apart from Jan, you can also find the grave of Saskia, who was the spouse to Europe’s greatest painter - Rembrandt Van Rijn.
In recent years, the window of the Church of Holy Sepulchre was replaced with Anastassis. The Anastassis is a splendid piece of artwork by Girorgio Calo and consists of a mouth-blown stained glass in red. The light from the sun rays fills the room in a magnificent red, which appeals to the visitors. It is representative of the 16th century Iconoclasm, and revives the Roman Cahtolic visual language and art work back.
In 2019, artist and pro photographer Misha de Ridder was permitted in the Oude Church throughout the day and night. He spent his days capturing stunning photographs, ranging from the most miniscule detail like dust to the most beautiful church pictures. Among them, one of his abstract photographs Mischa de Knight came into prominence and is displayed in the church warden’s room.
This exhibit displays the work of Iswanto Hartono, a famous sculptor. He has taken up the work to establish and display the connection between Indonesian colonial past in relation to European aggression. Out of the entire collection and series of works, a candle wax figurine has been exhibited in the church museum. This candle wax has been shaped to represent a white coloniser, and was expected to melt when it. However, only the face and upper body melted, signifying the symbolism brought by Iswanto Hartono.
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The Oude Church is one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Amsterdam, dating back to the mediaeval ages. It was initially built in the beginning of the 14th century as a small wooden chapel dedicated to St. Nicolas. As time passed by, and as the city saw more inhabitants, it was converted into a stone church. Since there were no Roman churches of such grandeur, it was the first and one-of-its-kind in the Netherlands. In 1306, it was consecrated by the Catholic bishop Utrecht Guy van Avesnes. By the mid-14th century, it had remarkably enlarged in size proportional to the population. It successfully survived the 15th-century Amsterdam big fires, which had blown away the wooden households in the city.
In 1565, the Oude Church received its first bell tower. Unfortunately, the church fell victim to huge iconoclastic events of 1566, during which huge mobs demolished and broke the images and painting in Dutch churches. This was in response to the alleged excesses by the pope in Rome. However, some of its interior and a number of stained glass paintings remained untouched during the protests. In the 18th century, the church allowed music and a pipe organ was brought to the church, which was regularly played by Jan Sweesink.
Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PMSundays from 1 PM to 5:30 PMThe Oude Church tower is open for tourists between April and September on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 PM to 5 PM.
Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX Amsterdam, Netherlands
The best time to visit the Oude Church is in the summer months of June, July and August, when the temperatures are warm but do not reach either extremes. These months offer pleasant weather for you to enjoy the attraction.
Photography is permitted at the church at all times.
How to Reach & Distance from Airport
The nearest airport to Oude Church is the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (20-24 kms)
Tips to Visit
Who Built Oude Kerk?
The Oude Kirk was built in 1213 and was consecrated in 1306 by Catholic bishop Utrecht Guy van Avesnes.
What is Oude Kerk famous for?
Oude Kirk, apart from having a rich history, is known for its stunning interior designs. The main hallways and the nave have a splendid Romano-Gothic touch, giving an amazing appeal to the eye. In fact, there are numerous paintings and glass stained artworks that are worthy of getting a glimpse of. At last, it holds significant religious importance in the Dutch community.
How far is Oude Kerk from Central Station in Amsterdam?
The Oude Kerk is around 5 kms away from Amsterdam Central Station.
What is the oldest church in the Netherlands?
The Oude Church Amsterdam is the oldest church in the Netherlands. It was built in around 121 and was later consecrated in 130 by the bishop of Utrecht.
Who is buried at the Oude Kerk?
Oude Kerk has around 2500 graves, including the graves of renowned people like Jan Sweelinck, Saskia, and also Jacob van Heemskerck.