Once a modest wooden chapel, built by 13th-century fisherman where the Amstel empties into the IJ River, the Oude Kerk (Old Church) is now an icon of Amsterdam. Over the centuries, successive additions to the church expanded its footstep, and now the one-time chapel dominates its own square, the appropriately named Oudekerksplein (Old Church Square), in the middle of De Wallen.
The Oude Kerk is also a focal point in the Miracle of the Host, an event said to have occured in the nearby Kalverstraat in 1345. After a Catholic priest had administered the last rites of a moribund man, the man vomited up the "host", or communion wafer; to dispose of the mess, it was thrown into the fire, host and all. But the host remained intact amid the ashes, and not only that: when twice it was transported to the parish church, each time the host was miraculously discovered back at the man's home on the Kalverstraat. The "miracle" is commemorated yearly at the "Silent Walk", a procession whose route takes in the landmarks of Amsterdam's Catholic community.
What's to See at the Oude Kerk:
The Oude Kerk does double -- no, multiple -- duty as a cemetery, exhibition space and concert hall, as well as one of the most marvelous churches in Europe. Beneath the stone floors are buried 10,000 notable Amsterdammers, such as the prolific Dutch composer Jan Sweelinck and the naval hero Jacob van Heemskerk, who led the Dutch fleet at the Battle of Gibraltar.
Hoardes of visitors descend on the Ouwe Kerk in April for the World Press Photo Exhibition, whose official kick-off is held there yearly; the best of photojournalism is exhibited first under the church's majestic wooden nave before it travels to other cities worldwide. And naturally, the church's splendid acoustics and romantic interior make it a desirable venue for acts on its busy concert calendar.
Oude Kerk Visitor Information:
Oude Kerk Location
- Mon. - Sat., 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
- Sun., 1 - 5 p.m.
- Closed January 1, April 30 and December 25.
- Adults: € 5
- Students: € 4
- Children under 12: Free
- "I amsterdam" card holders: Free
- By foot - Head south on Damrak and turn left before the Bijenkorf (just south of the Beursplein); follow this street to the Warmoesstraat. Make a left onto Warmoesstraat, then another left onto the Wijde Kerksteeg to reach Oudekerksplein. Enter the church via the south entrance.
- By tram - Lines 4, 9, 16, 24 or 25 to "Dam".
Call +31 (0)20 625 8284 or visit the Oude Kerk web site.