Amsterdam's oldest church has evolved over three centuries to look as it does today. What began as a wooden chapel in 1306 was built up to a hall church and then a cross basilica between 1366 and 1566 (and fully restored between 1955 and 1979). It was violently looted during the Reformation and stripped of its altars and images of saints—though the looters did leave the 14th-century paintings still visible on its wooden roof, as well as the Virgin Mary stained-glass
windows that had been set in place in 1550. The famed Vater-Müller organ was installed in 1726. Don't miss the carved choir stalls that illustrate proverbs relating to cardinal sins, among other things. Within this open, atmospheric space, there's a gravestone for Rembrandt's wife Saskia van Uylenburgh and also for Kiliaen van Rensselaer, one of the Dutch founders of what is now New York, and by the door, a bronzed hand cupping a naked breast. This is one of a series of sculptures placed throughout Amsterdam in1982 by an anonymous artist. The Oude Kerk is as much exhibition space as a place of worship, hosting the annual World Press Photography competition and top-notch modern-art shows. Its carillon is played every Tuesday at 2 and every Saturday at 4—the best place to listen is the bridge in front of the church.
Dec 14, 2005
This church is worth seeing only if you have gone to the Museum Amstelkring and have the Amsterdam Pass, which provides entrance to this site. It is interesting to see the woeful state of this church juxtaposed against the splendor of the Amstelkring, or attic church.