Amsterdam’s oldest church, the Old Church (Oude Kerk), is a curious sight. Consecrated in 1303, the triple-nave Gothic church is surrounded by the window brothels, coffee shops, and bars of the city’s notorious red-light district. Inside are an impressive Christian Müller organ, some scandalous 15th-century carvings, and a floor built of gravestones.
A visit to the Old Church—replete with tidbits about its history, architecture, and tombs—is included in many old town Amsterdam and red-light district (De Wallen) walking tours. To make the most out of your time in Amsterdam, pick up an I amsterdam City Card, which includes free admission to the Oude Kerk as well as other top Amsterdam attractions such as the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandt House, plus free unlimited use of public transportation.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Old Church is a must for first-time visitors to Amsterdam.
- Nearby attractions include the infamous red-light district and the Museum Amstelkring.
- Climbing the church tower requires an additional fee.
- Many areas of the church are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
The Old Church is just a short walk from Centraal Station and Dam Square. The church is difficult to reach by car, so plan on arriving by public transportation, bike, or on foot. From anywhere in central Amsterdam, take tram 4, 14, or 24 to Dam Square and then make the short 5-minute walk to the church.
When to Get There
The church is open 10am to 6pm Monday through Saturday and 1pm to 6:30pm Sunday. The Old Church sponsors an International Organ Festival each summer as well as year-round organ concerts and competitions. It also features rotating art exhibits and other special events throughout the year, so check the church calendar to see what’s happening during your visit. The Oude Kerk Tower
The Old Church’s leaning bell tower looms over Amsterdam’s red-light district and offers fantastic views of the city. Guides lead visitors up the narrow spiral staircase and a series of step ladders to the top of the 220-feet (67-meter) high tower. The tower is open only Thursday and Friday from April to September, and it may be climbed only with a guide.