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Oude Kerk - The Red Light District Amsterdam Guide - discover the secrets!
This is the book you should read before you visit the Red Light District!

Oude Kerk

Date: 7. jul 2018.
oude_kerk

Oude Kerk dominates the Red Light District and it is an important landmark to visit during your Amsterdam tour. It is located alongside a canal in the Red Light District and being 800 years old it represents the oldest monument in Amsterdam. It was originally built as a Catholic place of worship. The construction had started at the beginning of the twelfth century .Over time, this structure was replaced by a stone church that was consecrated in 1306.The church has seen a number of renovations performed by 15 generations of Amsterdam citizens. It was finally completed with the extension of the bell tower in 1566.

During the Alteration of 1578, Protestant reformers confiscated the church and destroyed much of its Catholic ornamentation. After the reformation, it became the Calvinist church and is one of the unique buildings expressing the national character of the Dutch Protestantism. Locals would gather in the church to gossip, peddlers sold their goods, and beggars sought shelter. This was not tolerated by the Calvinists, however, and the homeless were expelled. In 1681, the choir was closed-off with the screen of oak. Above the screen is the text “The prolonged misuse of God\\\'s church, were here undone again in the year seventy-eight”, referring to the Reformation of 1578.

In that same year, the Oude Kerk became home to the registry of marriages. It was also used as the city archives; the most important documents were locked in a chest covered with iron plates and painted with the city’s coat of arms. The chest was kept safe in the iron chapel.

It stands in De Wallen now Amsterdam’s main Red Light District. The square surrounding the church is called Oudekerksplein. When you find yourself in front of the church you will see the Coffee Shop right next to the church together with windows with sex workers in front of the Princess Juliana Nursery School. You will find that this part of Amsterdam is full of contrasts. Having the prostitution and soft drugs in a close vicinity to a church is not a very usual thing, some people find it shocking, and others think that the contrast is amazing. Nevertheless, Oude Kerk remains one of the unique sites to visit.

Inside the church there are three naves and you will get a very spacious feel thanks to Calvinist simplification. The vaulted wooden ceiling bears faded paintings dating from the 14th and 15th century, depicting various saints, ships, biblical scenes and coats of arms.

The floor is paved with rectangular slabs for memorials, each with its own number. Rembrandt’s wife is memorized on vault 28K. Rembrandt was a frequent visitor to the Oude Kerk and his children were all christened here. It is the only building in Amsterdam that remains in its original state since Rembrandt walked its halls. In the Holy Sepulcher, there is a small Rembrandt exhibition, a shrine to his wife Saskia Van Uylenburgh who was buried here in 1642.

Another highlight of the interior is the impressive grand organ from 1728, as well as a smaller transept organ and one more modern cabinet organ. The church houses the International Organ Festival held in summer each year, July through September.

Don’t miss the inscription over the entrance to the wedding chapel that says: ‘t is haest getrout dat lange rout (Marry in haste, repent at leisure).

One decorative remnant of the Catholic Oude Kerk that escaped Calvinist destruction is the “misericords” (mercy seats to assist singers as they stand for long periods).

There is an hourly guided tour in climbing to the church tower where you can experience an amazing view of Old Amsterdam.