The Netherlands

Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Old Church in the heart of Amsterdam is one of the City’s oldest structures. It was consecrated in 1306 and stands today at the very centre of the infamous Red Light District of Amsterdam – a very incongruous setting for such a building.

Only fifty years after its inauguration the church was extended; fifty years after that it was enlarged once more. This work continued, interrupted by various fires, until 1460 when the church more or less reached the size it is today. Further extension was not possible by this point.

During the anti-Catholic violence of the 16th Century much of the churches internal decoration was looted and removed – all that survived were the paintings on the ceilings, probably because they were out of reach.

By the 1680s the church was a gathering place for peddlers, beggars and prostitutes and in 1681 the Calvinists expelled all these miscellaneous people from the church (which ironically may have been the beginnings of the Red Light District which now surrounds the church).

Rembrandt was a frequent worshipper at the church. His children were all christened here and his wife is buried here in 1642. It is just about the only building in Amsterdam that Rembrandt would recognise.

Although it is now at the centre of Amsterdam’s alternative culture area, the church still stands sentinel and ancient as it has done for almost seven hundred years.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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and Shaun Runham
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