De Oude Kerk

Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district, Netherlands.
De Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district, Netherlands. Photo taken in June 2012.


Video shot mostly inside Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district, Netherlands. Filmed in June 2012

History
In the 13th century a small chapel was built in Amsterdam at a burial ground. It was later replaced by the Catholic St. Nicolaaskerk (Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and travellers) and on the 17th September 1306 it was consecrated by the Bishop of Utrecht. It is the oldest surviving building in Amsterdam. Originally just 40m in length after 30 years it had to be extended. In fact it was enlarged many times over the years as Amsterdam kept growing. As Amsterdam grew more another church was built on Dam Square in 1410. It was called De Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church). This led to locals calling St. Nicolaaskerk - De Oude Kerk (The old church). The two churches became rivals and ambitious plans to further expand and improve it went slowly with lots of interruptions. Two interruptions were likely caused by devastating fires in 1421 and 1452. Most wooden houses were destroyed though the church remained untouched. Financial difficulties plus lack of space meant that further improvements and expansions virtually stopped.
In 1566 the church suffered from "iconoclastic fury". Calvinist Protestant crowds attack symbols of Catholicism (Beeldenstorm) all over Europe and much of the artwork within the Oude Kerk was either stolen or destroyed. In 1578 Protestants defeated the Catholics and the church was taken over by the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church. The church had been a "public place" previously where anyone could shelter and it had attracted beggars, sellers and was reportedly a place where fishermen repaired their nets. This however was not tolerated by the Calvinist Protestants and the church was emptied of these people and thoroughly cleaned. The authorities focused on the interior especially the pulpits, monuments and memorial stones. Two organs were installed one of which is the famous Vater-Müller Organ. Areas were modernised and repaired.
In the 20th century structural problems were discovered and between 1912 and 1914 emergency restoration was done. However it was not sufficient and the churched closed it's doors in 1951 because of fears it would collapse. In order to save it a foundation called "Stichting de Oude Kerk te Amsterdam" was set up. There was a long period of restoration between 1955 and 1979 and another from 1994 to 1998 when it was finally re-opened. On 27th February 2008 the third restoration started with a big focus on the historic floor with it's 2500 graves. Other work is also taking place and is due to finish in 2013.

The Church
The huge organ at the East end of the church is the Vater-Müller Organ (often called the grand organ). It was built by Christian Vater but had to be disassembled in 1738 during restoration work. When it was reassembled Casper Müller made some alterations and that is why it is now known as the Vater-Müller Organ.
The floor consists entirely of gravestones. There are 2500 and it is claimed that 10,000 people have been buried there. Because the church was built on a cemetery local citizens continued burying people within the confines of the church until 1865. There are several well known Dutch people buried within the church though non Dutch are unlikely to know them. They include Saskia van Uylenburgh (Rembrandt's wife).
In the early days The St. Nicolaaskerk / Oude Kerk was a beacon for boats. It was the most prominent building where the Amstel river ran into the IJ (the waterway behind centraal station) and was always very significant to sailors. Before the attack on the church in 1578 there was a silver procession boat on the South Eastern side of the church. The tradition was restored in November 2007 and today three miniature ships hang from the ceiling. They are the Hulk, Aeolus and the SS Rembrandt. You can see the SS Rembrandt in the photos below.

Entry
The church: Open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sundays 1pm to 5pm. The fee is 5 Euros however the church often has exhibitions and on these days entrance is typically more.
The Tower: This is accessed from the West end close to Wijde Kerksteeg. The fee is around 5 Euros but you have to go with the guide which is a bit of a pain if you just want a quick look across the city. I made a video from the top here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Below are some photos I took in and around the Oude Kerk in June 2012 (except one). Click on any to see a larger version. I regret that I am unable to give accurate descriptions of everything I photoed.
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk across Oudezijds Voorburgwal
(2011?)
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk entrance on Oudekerksplein 
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
The Vater-Müller Organ
 
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was a Dutch composer & organist
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk  
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Pulpit  
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Model of the SS Rembrandt  
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk plan 
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was a Dutch composer & organist
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was a Dutch composer & organist
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk gravestone
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Jacob van Heemskerck, naval hero
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Saskia van Uylenburgh
Rembrandt's wife
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Saskia van Uylenburgh
Rembrandt's wife
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
The Vater-Müller Organ
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk  
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk  
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Feike Asma (organist)
Oude Kerk in Amsterdam's red light district (Rosse Buurt)
Oude Kerk gravestone

Some older photos of De Oude Kerk and surrounding area. Select thumbnail to view (embedded from external source).





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