The Oude Kerk is a historic old church in Amsterdam open to visitors and located in the middle of the red light district. The Oude Kerk hosts regular contemporary art exhibitions and installations.
Oude Kerk is the oldest building in Amsterdam. The stone church was was consecrated in 1306 and replaced a wooden chapel from the early 13th century. The gothic-style building has seen a number of renovations and restorations over the centuries.
The church was originally Roman Catholic and was known as the St Nicholas Church. It suffered damage from the iconoclastic attacks in 1566 known as the Beeldenstorm. The church was then made Protestant following the Alteration in 1578.
Eventually the importance of the Oude Kerk receded somewhat as the city expanded and built a new church (Nieuwe Kerk) on Dam Square in 1645.
Inside the church you will notice the floor made up entirely of gravestones. There are some 2,200 graves containing the remains of 12,000 Amsterdam residents.
This includes Saskia Uylenburgh, the wife of famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn who passed away from tuberculosis on 19 June 1642 aged just 29. Her grave is number 29 at the ‘Weiterkoperskapel’ near the small choir organ close to the northern door.
The church has excellent acoustics thanks to its magnificent vaulted wooden ceiling, the largest medieval example in Europe. The Oude Kerk has 4 pipe organs including the baroque Great Organ from 1726/1742 built by Vater-Müller.
Other highlights of the church include the large stained glass windows, the Church Warden’s Office, the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre and the Baptismal Chapel.
There are around 2,600 objects in the church collection including 100 paintings and prints – although it feels quite sparse when walking around (especially when there is no exhibition or installation).
An audio tour is available in Dutch and English which provides some insight into the history, architecture and art of the Oude Kerk. A simple floor plan map is also given out at the entrance.
You can see a modern red-stained glass window which was installed in the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre. This is a 2018 work by Italian artist Giorgio Andreotta Calò and helps reflect the Catholic origins of the church.
The Oude Kerk tower can normally be climbed by guided tour only (April to October) from a separate outside entrance on the western side.
The carillons are temporarily out of action – when in service they are usually played every Tuesday and Saturday at 1600 – which can best be heard from the Oudekerksbrug bridge outside.
Oude Kerk Essential Info
|Opening Times||Daily 1000-1800 (Mon-Sat), 1300-1730 (Sun).|
|Admission Prices (2023)||€13.50 for adults, €7 for youths 13-18 and students, €3.50 for children 6-12. FREE entry to children 0-5, Museumkaart and Iamsterdam City Card holders. Special exhibitions can attract a supplement.|
Alternatively, order the Iamsterdam City Card online here which includes free entrance to the Oude Kerk.
|Getting There||The Oudekerk is located in De Wallen (red-light district) a short walk from either Dam Square or Nieuwmarkt. Take metro 51/53/54 to Nieuwmarkt or metro 52 to Rokin.|
Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX Amsterdam
T: +31(0)20 625 8284, oudekerk.nl
Last updated 20 January 2023. This article was first published in 2010 and has been regularly updated.