The Oude Kerk is considered the oldest building and the oldest parish church in Amsterdam. The church stands on the cobbled Oudekerksplein on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal. Despite the beautiful location that takes visitors back in time, the Oude Kerk is clearly a building of the future with long traces to the past. Religious services are still being held regularly, but in 2016 the building also officially became a museum, where contemporary artists can exhibit their works of art. It’s located in the middle of Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
The History of the Oude Kerk
The church originally dates from around 1213, when a wooden chapel was built at the point where the Amstel river flowed into the IJ. At that time the church was very important for the sailors and fishermen who lived there. In 1306 the church was officially dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of fishermen, sailors and merchants. Over the centuries the building evolved into the beautiful monument that still stands there today. Cross barges were built to give it the popular cross shape. The tower with its four church bells and carillon with 47 bells has been rebuilt several times and has changed shape.
In the course of time the church served as Catholic and then Calvinist church. The building has survived revolts, was vandalized during the Iconoclasm in the 16th century and was damaged by fire. The church houses more than 2,500 graves (under which another 10,000 Amsterdammers are buried), with which it is the final resting place of countless civilians, from admirals and governors and from poets to composers. The wife of Rembrandt van Rijn – Saskia van Uylenburgh, is also laid to rest here. The building has been called the ‘Old Church’ since the 15th century. Then the Nieuwe Kerk was built on the Dam as the second church for the growing city of Amsterdam.