The Oude Kerk, also known as the Old Church, is the oldest building in Amsterdam. Located in De Wallen (the city's red-light district), it is primarily used as a historical church, with weekly mass services being held on Sunday mornings. This has been a continuous tradition for the Protestant Oude Kerk congregation since 1578.

    In 2012, the Oude Kerk was transformed beyond a typical place of worship into an art institute featuring contemporary art and historic pieces. You’ll also find that the church hosts the annual Sweelinck International Festival of Organ Music each summer. The Oude Kerk is where the Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck worked as an organist from the age of 15.

    Oude Kerk in Amsterdam - one of the highlights of 10 Most Instagrammable Places in Amsterdam (Read all about Amsterdam here)

    A brief history of Oude Kerk

    Although the Oude Kerk was only officially consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht, the establishment was founded in 1213. The church was originally built using wooden materials until stones were used as replacements for better structural integrity. The ceiling of the church, made of Estonian oak planks that date back to 1390, is also known to be the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe.

    Many may not be aware that the church was built over an old cemetery. Various notable figures, including naval hero Jacon van Heemskerck and Saskia van Uylenburgh (wife of Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn) were buried under the church grounds. Most of the burials have been moved away following multiple restorations of the church over the centuries, but you will still be able to see the tomb markers lining the ground.

    What are the highlights of Oude Kerk?

    The Oude Kerk is both a functioning church and historical landmark in Amsterdam. Over the years, it has been transformed into a space for art displays, including a permanent exhibition on the history of Amsterdam. Various installations are set to change with the seasons, so it’s best to check the church’s website to discover what’s on display when you visit.

    For adventurous guests, you may also consider climbing the Oude Kerk’s tower. A separate fee is required for this attraction – note that cash is not accepted at the church. The stairs leading up to the tower are tight, making the trip unsuitable for those who are uncomfortable in narrow spaces. At the end of the climb, you'll be rewarded with a bird's eye view over Amsterdam. It’s exceptionally beautiful in summer when fewer gloomy clouds over the city.

    Good to know about Oude Kerk in Amsterdam

    Covering over 3,300 square metres, the Oude Kerk is surrounded by a large, open square called Oudekerksplein. Visitors hoping to catch a greater exterior view of the church should make their way across the Oudezijdz Voorburgwal or OZ Voorburgwal. Here, you'll be able to stand on a bridge that connects Damstraat to Oude Doelenstraat and enjoy a full view of the Oude Kerk.

    Tickets to the Oude Kerk is available online and at the door, though I Amsterdam pass holders can enter for free. Children below the age of 12 can also enter without a fee.

    The Oude Kerk can be reached on foot from the Amsterdam Centraal Station following an 8-minute walk. The cobblestoned streets that are lined with old brick buildings often turn the trip into a scenic walk on sunny days.

    Alternatively, you could hop on the Metro to the Nieuwmarkt station on the red or orange line, then walk for around 3 minutes after exiting the station. If you’re there on a Saturday, stop by local delicacies at the Boerenmarkt farmer’s market, which is just outside the station.

    Oude Kerk in Amsterdam

    Location: Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +31 (0)20 625 8284

    Elie Lam | Contributing Writer

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