De Nieuwe Kerk or the New Church is Amsterdam’s main church located on Dam Square next to the Royal Palace.
It is open to the public as a church, exhibition space and also holds organ concerts and private events.
The church originally dates from the 14th century when the growing city of Amsterdam needed a second church from the Oude Kerk (Old Church).
The Nieuwe Kerk was subsequently damaged by fire a number of times – in 1645 it was rebuilt in Gothic style after almost being destroyed – and this is what can be seen today along with some renovations from the 19th and 20th century.
The Nieuwe Kerk is used for royal weddings and inaugurations. On April 30th 2013 it was the site of the investiture of Dutch King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima, who were also married in the church in 2002.
Highlights inside the church include the magnificent Great Organ from 1655; the grand brass choir screen and stained glass windows; the hundreds of grave slabs on the floor (some 10,000 corpses are buried below the church); the tomb/crypt of distinguished Dutch admiral Michiel De Ruyter (1607-1676) who amongst many notable achievements managed to free 26 Hungarian slaves.
The annual timetable of the Nieuwe Kerk looks generally like this (although things have changed somewhat in 2020-2021):
Masterpiece – An important single work of religious art is chosen for display which is borrowed from a museum or private collection. Runs roughly from mid-February to early April.
Past works have included The Holy Family – Rembrandt (2011), The Last Supper – Andy Warhol (2012), In Memory of George Dyer – Francis Bacon (2014), Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall) & Fire Woman – Bill Viola (2015), Calvary – Marc Chagall (2016), Pentecost – El Greco (2017), Gazing Ball – Jeff Koons (2018) and St Michael – Luca Giordano (2019). No Masterpiece exhibition was held in 2020.
World Press Photo – The annual exhibition contest of international photojournalism. The World Press Photo foundation (founded 1955) is based in Amsterdam and has held the exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk from 1982-1999 and 2014-present. Runs from mid-April to early-July. Ran June to November in 2020.
Remembrance Day Service – The Netherlands observes Remembrance Day each May 4th to commemorate the victims of World War 2. There is a televised service held at Nieuwe Kerk followed by a ceremony on Dam Square with a nationwide two minute silence at 8pm.
Journey in Time. History & Royalty – During the summer the ’empty’ church can be visited with a focus on its Medieval and Royal history. It includes some multimedia exhibits. Generally runs mid-July to mid-September. Runs 5 Dec 2020 to 11 April 2021.
Major exhibition – Autumn sees the Nieuwe Kerk put on a major themed exhibition. Runs October to early February.
Past exhibits have included Ming. Emperors, Artists and Merchants in Ancient China (2013-14), Magical Africa (2014-15), Rome. Emperor Constantine’s Dream (2015-16), Marilyn: 90 Years Miss Monroe (2016-17), We Have a Dream: Gandhi, Luther-King, Mandela (2017-18), The Life of Buddha, the Path to the Present (2018-19), The Great Suriname Exhibition (2019-20). No major exhibition in winter 2020-21.
Note that the Nieuwe Kerk can be closed temporarily in preparation for an up-coming exhibition.
There is the popular ‘t Nieuwe Cafe next door with a large outer terrace on Dam Square.
Note, due to ‘coronavirus’ measures you must pre-book a ticket and timeslot in order to maintain 1.5m social distancing. There are a limited number of visitors allowed and one-way walking routes are in effect. Masks are now mandatory.
Nieuwe Kerk Essential Info
|Opening Times||Daily 1000-1700. Closed until at least 9 February 2021.|
|Admission Prices (2021)||Admission varies (€9-€18) depending on the event. History & Royalty costs €13.50 for adults. FREE entrance for children 0-11, Museumkaart holders and Iamsterdam City Card holders.|
|Getting There||The Nieuwe Kerk is located on Dam Square, a short walk from Amsterdam Central station. Trams 2/4/12/13/14/17 all stop at Dam Square; or take metro line 52 to nearby Rokin.|
De Nieuwe Kerk, Dam Square, Amsterdam
T: +31(0)20 638 6909, nieuwekerk.nl
Last update 18 January 2021 (originally published in 2010).