Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder -- or "Our Lord in the Attic" -- is your typical 17th-century canal-side mansion with a twist: a clandestine Catholic church in its attic, from a time when it was forbidden to pratice Catholicism openly. In 1661, the merchant Jan Hartman acquired the mansion in this then-ritzy part of town, which he outfitted with a resplendent salon to receive the public. But Hartman, a Catholic, sequestered the most precious part of his new mansion in the "attic": a full Catholic church.
Hardly an attic by most standards, the church occupies the top three floors of the canal house, where it served the local Catholic community for two centuries. Catholic masses were prohibited at this time, but it would be inaccurate to call this "attic church" a secret: the authorities were aware of its existence, but allowed it to operate in the spirit of Amsterdam's de facto tolerance -- the same spirit, perhaps ironically, that enables the sale of marijuana today.
What's to See at Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder:
On the one hand, the museum offers a window into the life of an affluent 17th-century merchant, in which sense it's comparable to other Amsterdam canal house museums. The salon itself is worth the visit, as a treasure trove of period furniture and decorative flourishes (and even has a twin in Japan's Huis ten Bosch, a Dutch theme park).
On the other hand, the museum embodies a historical precedent of The Netherlands' often paradoxical policy of tolerance amid prohibition; and in this instance, the precedent takes the form of a majestic church interior. In 1888, soon after the first Catholic parish church in Amsterdam was opened, this monumental canal house-cum-attic church was transformed into the current museum, where it welcomes the entire public in the ecumenical spirit of Amsterdam.
Museum Ons' Heer op Solder Visitor Information:
Museum Ons' Heer op Solder Location
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40
- Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
- Sundays and holidays, 1 - 5 p.m.
- Closed January 1 and April 30
- Children up to 4: Free
- Children 5-18: € 4
- Adults: € 6.00
- Guided tours must be booked in advance (for max. 25 people); the tours, which last approximately one hour, cost from € 32.00.
- By foot - From Central Station, head east on Prins Hendrikkade, which branches off into Nieuwbrugsteeg. Follow Nieuwbrugsteeg southeast and make a right onto Oudezijds Voorburgwal.
Call +31 (0)20 624 6604 or visit the Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder website.