De Oude Kerk   Old Church

Amsterdam's oldest building

De Oude Kerk is Amsterdam's oldest parish church. The building was founded circa 1213 and consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht.

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De Oude Kerk, view from Oudezijds Voorburgwal. Photo: Aleks Varnica

The building of the Oude Kerk began in the 13th century, when Amsterdam was a small town on the river Amstel.

Organs

The two organs during Sweelinck's tenure as organist (1577-1621) were built in 1539 and 1545 by Hendrik Niehoff. The bones of this great composer are still in De Oude Kerk, buried under stone floor 100 or 101.

The small organ was replaced in 1658, after Sweelinck's death, by Hans Wolf Schonat (the builder of the main organ in De Nieuwe Kerk).


Even during Sweelinck's time, the area around the Oude Kerk had been Amsterdam's "Red Light" district. The church, now mainly used as a museum, has a warm, inviting feeling, despite of its size.

Rembrandt

Rembrandt was a frequent visitor of De Oude Kerk and his children were all christened here. It is the only building in Amsterdam that remained in its original state since Rembrandt walked its halls. In the Holy Sepulchre is a small Rembrandt exhibition, a shrine to his wife Saskia van Uylenburgh who was buried here in 1642.

Reformation

After the Reformation in 1578, it became a Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church, which it remains today. Throughout the 16th-century battles, the church was looted and defaced on numerous occasions, first in the Beeldenstorm (Great Iconoclasm) of 1566, when a mob destroyed most of the church art and fittings.

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more impressions
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Grave of Saskia van Uylenburgh, Rembrandt's spouse
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Family coats of arms of the church masters of the Old Church (1681)
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The floor consists entirely of gravestones. The reason for this is that the church was built on a cemetery. De Oude Kerk has 2,500 graves, under which are buried 10,000 Amsterdam citizens.
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The famous Vater-Müller organ (1724-1738), one of the finest Baroque organs in Europe
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Pay also a visit to the picturesque 'de Koffieschenkerij' ('Coffee Parlor'), the former sacristy of De Oude Kerk, for a coffee, cake or lunch