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:
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. Normally runs from mid-April to mid-August.
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-August to late-September.
Major exhibition – Autumn sees the Nieuwe Kerk put on a major themed exhibition. This currently runs October to early April.
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), Maison Amsterdam (2021-22).
The 2022-23 exhibition will be The Century of Juliana, a Queen and her Ideals about the former Dutch Queen who reigned 1948-1980, with over 100 art objects from the Royal Collections. It runs 15 Oct 2022 to 9 Apr 2023.
Masterpiece – An important single work of religious art was chosen for display borrowed from a museum or private collection. It used to run roughly from mid-February to early April although has not run since 2019. The major wintertime exhibition has been lengthened to fill the calendar up to April.
Past Masterpiece 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).
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.
Nieuwe Kerk Essential Info
|Opening Times||Daily 1000-1700.|
|Admission Prices (2023)||Admission varies depending on the event.|
The Century of Juliana costs €19.50 for adults and €7.50 for youths (12-17). FREE entrance for children 0-11 and I Amsterdam City Card holders. Note, Museumkaart holders need to pay a €2.50 supplement.
Order the I Amsterdam City Card online here which includes free entrance to the Nieuwe Kerk.
|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 27 March 2023 (originally published in 2010).
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