Oude Kerk Overview

The city's oldest building, Oude Kerk is a center for art, culture, and heritage. Its fascinating past is woven with significant events that transformed this ancient Roman Catholic Church into a Calvinist Church. The church's stunning architecture is complemented by a rich collection of antique items, such as paintings and the four organs, which together serve as the church's primary draw for tourists.

Oude Kerk, located in Amsterdam's historical red-light district, is an old church, museum, monument, and one of the Netherlands' most famous contemporary art institutions. Explore the historical and cultural significance of Oude Kerk with our Europe tour packages. The church dates back to the early 13th century, making it the oldest surviving building in Amsterdam. It holds a special place in the Dutch and European cultural landscape as a symbol of the Beeldenstorm, which transformed this Roman Catholic Church into a Calvinist Church in the sixteenth century.

The Oude Kerk church building itself reflects more than 700 years of history as there are numerous wooden vaults embellished with ancient artwork, ancient paintings, organs, and gravestones on the floor. Contemporary art inspired by the structure and its history also adorns the church, flawlessly blending the past and present.

Worship services for the Protestant Oude Kerk congregation, which have been held here since 1578, are also conducted here every Sunday morning. The museum, which displays architecture as well as old and new art, is open every day of the week. A variety of tours that focus on Oude Kerk's history, architecture, current exhibitions, or a combination of all of these are also offered here. You will surely have a delightful experience while learning about the art, heritage, architecture, and music of the Oude Kerk from a dedicated staff of museum educators.

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• Visit Amsterdam’s oldest surviving building, the Oude Kerk and discover its long history and admire its marvelous architecture.
• Discover the story associated with the 16th-century Beeldenstorm, when it was converted from a Roman Catholic Church to a Calvinist Church.
• Marvel at the 15th-century paintings, the stained glass windows, a 17th-century four-pipe organ, wooden vaults, gravestones, etc. which give a historical touch to the Church's appearance.
• Look for the contemporary pieces of art that decorate the church, such Anastasis by Giorgio Andreotta Cal, to discover how harmoniously the past and present coexist here.
• Opt for a guided tour that focuses on art, history, architecture, music, or a combination of all of these for some unforgettable experiences with a knowledgeable guide.
• Visit one of the occasionally scheduled musical performances or art exhibits at the chapel.
• Attend Sunday services, which have been held here since 1578, to experience spiritual feelings.

How To Reach

By Train: Take an 18-minute train ride (Sprinter, Intercity direct, Intercity) from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal followed by an 8-minute (740 metres) walk to Oude Kerk. Entire trip costs around €6 to €13.

By Bus: Take a 34-minute Night Bus ride (N97) from Schiphol, Airport B17 to Amsterdam, Nieuwezijds Kolk followed by a 5-minute (457 metres) walk to Oude Kerk. Entire trip costs around €4 to €6. Shuttle service is also available for the same route from Schiphol Airport to Oude Kerk, which is 17.6 km in 18 minutes. 

By Car: A car ride from Amsterdam Airport (AMS) to Oude Kerk will take 18 minutes (19.6 km). A taxi ride for the same route will cost €49 to €59. Uber service is also available at a price ranging from €25 to €36. Rideshare from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam before a 7-minute walk to Oude Kerk will take 32 minutes and cost you €2.5.

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Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit the church is between the months of June and August as the weather at that time is warm and sunny while the temperatures are pleasant and moderate. The average temperature during July is 17.9 degrees celsius. It is the most ideal time for tourists to visit and explore the church and other attractions of the city on foot. Another great time to visit Oude Kerk is during the procession of stille omgang that takes place in the month of March when around 5,000 Catholics from all over the Netherlands gather to take part in the Silent Walk.

Oude Kerk is also the host to an array of activities centring on art. The current one, which includes events like Poems for Earthlings and Silence concert, started on 21st November 2019 and will continue till the 26th of April 2020.

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Other Essential Information

History of Oude Kerk

Initially made out of wood in the 13th century on the banks of the river Amstel, the Oude Kerk was rebuilt to a stone church by the end of the same century. To match the pace of growing Amsterdam, the Oude Kerk too was rebuilt and enlarged quite a many times.The interiors of the Oude Kerk were destroyed during the proceedings of August 1566, when the Catholic Church was revolted against by the city’s population. Hints of demolition and vandalism can still be traced to this day. After the Alteration in the year 1578, the church became a Reformed Protestant one and has stayed the same ever since.

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Architecture of Oude Kerk

The architectural style of the Oude Kerk is Hollandse gotiek (or Dutch Gothic). Although most Dutch Protestant churches have simple interiors with only a handful of artefacts, the Oude Kerk shows off with its well lit high windows, choir misericords and old gravestones on the floor.

After the destruction of most of the catholic paintings and artworks by the Calvinists, the only hints of the church’s magnificence that remained were the stained glass windows and the arched ceiling holding a few 15th-century illustrations. Overall, the church became a unique building that helped depict the national disposition of Protestantism in the Netherlands.

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Things to Do Near Oude Kerk

1. Check out Statue "Belle" - It is a bronze sculpture of a prostitute, in the heart of the red-light district, crafted by Els Rijerse that has a plaque reading the message - ‘Respect sex workers all over the world’. It was placed in the district in the year 2007.

2. Shop at Dam Square - Considered the true heart of Amsterdam as all roads in the city finally lead to Dam Square. It is home to The Royal Palace, War Memorial, Nieuwe Kerk and wonderful street performances. Crowds of shoppers and tourists can make it a really busy place to visit.

3. Have a Beer at Brouwerij de Prael - Famous for its lovely ambience and amazing beer, Brouwerij de Prael is a must-visit if you want to taste some fine brew and also the best bitterballen in all of Amsterdam. It is located at a walking distance from the central station.

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Places to Visit Near Oude Kerk

1. Museum of Prostitution - Red Light Secrets: Located just 0.1 km from the church, the museum of prostitution is a favourite among tourists for its intriguing and eye-opening details and information regarding the world’s oldest profession. Presented from the point of view of the sex workers, the museum educates visitors with subjects such as how much do they earn, what is it like to work there and how the entire district functions.

2. Oudekerkstoren - The Oudekerkstoren is another church close to the Oude Kerk. Built in the thirteenth century, the church also houses a tall tower that was erected in the sixteenth century and now makes a good scope for nice photography.

3. Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder - This is one of the city’s oldest museums which promises visitors an unforgettable experience of the Dutch Golden Age. It is a 17th-century canal house whose top floor is converted into a Catholic church.

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Places to Dine Near Oude Kerk

1. Pizza Pino Amsterdam - It is less than 100 metres away from the Oude Kerk and serves pizzas and other Italian and European cuisines. It also specializes in vegetarian-friendly diets and is a recommended place for having dinner or lunch.

2. De Koffieschenkerij -Specializing in Cafe, Dutch and European cuisines, De Koffieschenkerij is just 100 metres from the Red Light District and provides options for vegan and gluten-free diets.

3. Martine of Martine's Table - Located just 0.2 km from the Oude Kerk, this private dining restaurant serves French, Dutch and European cuisines.

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Places to Stay Near Oude Kerk

1. NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky - This family hotel provides amenities like airport transportation, bicycle rental, bar/lounge e.t.c and has air-conditioned rooms with facilities like minibar and flatscreen TV. It is about 0.2 km from the Oude Kerk. 

2. Hotel Luxer - Hotel Luxer is a centrally located hotel, also 0.2 km from the Oude Kerk, that promises provisions like taxi service, concierge and free internet. 

3. NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace - 300 metres from the Oude Kerk, the hotel offers services like business centre having internet access, gym/workout room and babysitting.

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Tips While Visiting Oude Kerk

  • For individuals and groups, who are planning to visit the Oude Kerk church for the first time, the following tips will be helpful.
  • Make sure to carry your credit or debit cards as admission will only be accepted through cards if you want to buy tickets offline.
  • The offline ticket desk stays open till 3:45 PM. 
  • Use public transport for a better experience on this tour.

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Point of Interest for Oude Kerk
Live shows at Oude Kerk

Live shows at Oude Kerk

Oude Kerk hosts three or four high-profile international exhibitions every year alongside near-weekly concerts, permanent collection presentations and numerous other activities. After the restoration of the monumental church building in 2013, it was opened once again to the public and has since then been the venue for several programmes revolving mainly around art.

Performances organized by the church include pieces that are site-specific by artists thrice a year. The Oude Kerk also contains side rooms which hold historical collections of contemporary art works. Upcoming events include Poems for Earthlings (artworks by artist Adrián Villar Rojas), Rembrandt (a display of the painting ‘Head of Christ’) and Silence (contemporary music concert).

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Stille Omgang

Stille Omgang

Stille Omgang or the "Miracle of Amsterdam" is an event that occurred in 1345 and is now celebrated by Catholics in the form of a Catholic procession in mid-March every year at the Oude Kerk. The miracle refers to the not burning of the Host (Sacramental bread) vomited by a dying man when the vomit was thrown into a fire.

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Oude Kerk FAQs

Who Built Oude Kerk?

A small Catholic parish, in the early 13th century (circa 1213), built a church out of wood on the banks of the Amstel river and it soon became the main place of worship for the people in Amsterdam. Finally, in 1306, the bishop of Utrecht consecrated the chapel with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint.

What is Oude Kerk famous for?

The Oude Kerk is famous for its pipe organs. It has four of them, the first one is the old church organ made in 1658, the second is the cabinet organ built in 1767, the third was constructed in 1724 and the fourth was built in 2010.

Is there any transportation facility available to reach Oude Kerk?

There are generally three modes of transport available for people to get to Oude Kerk. These include the Bus (170, 172, 307, 394), Metro (51, 53, 54) and Train (SPRINTER).

How far is Oude Kerk from Central Station in Amsterdam?

If you want to go by foot, the Oude Kerk will fall a mere 650 metres away from the Amsterdam Central Station via Oudezijds Voorburgwal (750 metres via Damrak). If you are travelling by car then you have to take the De Ruijterkade/S100 which makes the church 3.6 km from the station.

Is Oude Kerk safe to visit?

Yes, the Oude Kerk is a safe site of tourist attraction although it is located in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. It is a registered museum and an area with utmost protection. You can visit this place as safely as the other places in Amsterdam.

How big is Oude Kerk?

The Oude Kerk is spread over an area of 36,000 sq ft or 3,300 sq metres and also its ceiling is the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe.

Is there network connectivity inside the Oude Kerk?

The cell network works fine in most of the places inside the Kerk, however, there is no open wi-fi network for the visitors inside this magnificent church.

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