Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Amsterdam

Amsterdam's numerous churches are an unique example of architectural diversity. Whether you are a keen church goer or simply interested in the architectural and historic aspects, Amsterdam will not disappoint. Take this self guided walk to visit the important religious sites in Amsterdam. The walk starts from the central station and visit eight religious sites in the city.
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Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Amsterdam (See other walking tours in Amsterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: clare
1
Centraal Station

1) Centraal Station (must see)

When in Amsterdam you are bound to enter the Centraal Station at least once during your visit. With over 1500 trains that ply daily through the station, it is one of the busiest places in Amsterdam. Almost 250,000 commuters go through the Central daily and in the truest sense it is the heart of the city.

The Central station began service in the late 19th century. Designed by architects P.J.H. Cuypers and A. L. van Gendt, the structure symbolized the rebirth of the once unstable financial state of the country.

An interesting fact about the Central Station is that it was built on three man-made islands and the current location of the station is not the one that was originally decided. To erect a structure as massive as the Station it took precisely 8687 wooden piles to support the building on the muddy soil. The entire project seemed like a huge mistake and was even condemned by many experts, but in the end, the architects managed to pull it off.

Today, this Neo-Gothic structure stands proudly on the banks of the river IJ and one can only gaze at the beauty and the colossal presence of this magnificent edifice built on a manmade island.

Why You Should Visit:
A mass transit and cosmopolitan fever hotspot, mixing neo-Renaissance architecture and modern technology.

Tip:
There are several (free) ferry trips through the canals that leave from here about every 5 or 15 minutes and are very worthwhile. You can get right back on the boat if you wish and cruise back to the station.
2
St. Nicolaaskerk

2) St. Nicolaaskerk

One of the most inspiring structures in Amsterdam is the St Nicolaaskerk or the St Nicolas Church. A unique amalgamation of Neo- Baroque, neo-Renaissance and traditional Dutch architecture, the Church of Saint Nicolas is one of the most splendid structures in Amsterdam.

Built in the late 19th century, the Church is known as one of the best designed churches in modern day Amsterdam.

This overpowering structure was designed by architect A.C. Bleijs, who built it with a vision of reviving different styles of architecture. The chief patron of the Church St. Nicolas, commonly known as Santa Claus, is also Amsterdam’s patron saint. The Church of Saint Nicholas is still one of the main churches in the city that practice Roman Catholicism and services are held regularly even today. Along with masses, the church is also known for its choir and musical recitals. People from all over visit the church to listen to the 19th century organ which is still played during service.

The overwhelming presence of the ornate octagonal dome with the identical towers by it side and the stained glass window that separate them are truly a feat of sheer architectural brilliance. Not only is St. Nicholaaskerk magnificent on the outside, the interiors too are spellbinding. Decorated by one of the most gifted artists of the 19th century, Jan Dunselman the Church in its full right is a true delight to visit.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Oude Kerk (Old Church)

3) Oude Kerk (Old Church) (must see)

In the midst of De Wallen, the largest and best known Red Light District in Amsterdam is the oldest parish of the city, the Oude Kerk or Old Church. St. Nicholas is the main patron of this stunning Roman Catholic Church. Not only is the structure one of the oldest, but the Church is also home to the city’s oldest church bells that date back to 1450.

This stunning Church dates back to the early 14th century which started off as a modest wooden Chapel. The Church later took the form of this magnificent late Gothic structure that it is today. It was constructed on an old cemetery and even today one can see that the floor of the Oude Kerk contains gravestones. Beneath the floors of the Church lie at rest more than 10,000 Amsterdam denizens, some of whom were quite famous personalities. The Church is the resting place of Jacob van Heemskerck, a naval hero, Frans Banning Cocq, a central character of Rembrandt’s Night Watch and Dutch composer Jan Sweelinck.

The splendor of the Oude Kerk is contained not only in its exterior -- the inside is equally breathtaking. This three-nave Church manages to transport its visitors back to the past with its grandeur and elegance. The Church from the inside is surprisingly spacious, with a ceiling made of wood and covered with some magnificent paintings depicting saints and events in the Bible.

Why You Should Visit:
While Niewe Kerk is bigger and more ornate, Oude Kerk is very old and has a real sense of history about it.

Tip:
Wonderful views from the tower (note that the fee is only payable with credit/debit cards); coffee and a snack in the charming garden.

Opening Hours:
Sun: 1pm-5:30pm; Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Zuiderkerk (South Church)

4) Zuiderkerk (South Church)

One of the prettiest towers in Amsterdam that even inspired a few of Monet’s paintings is at the South Church or the Zuiderkerk. Built during the years of 1603 to 1614, the Zuiderkerk was the first protestant or Reformist Church in Amsterdam. This magnificent structure was designed by renowned Dutch architect Hendrick de Keyser.

The Church was built with respect to the Renaissance style of architecture. There are claims that the design of Zuiderkerk even inspired the great British architect Sir Christopher Wren, the builder of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The Zuiderkerk may have acted as inspiration, model and trophy for a few but there was a time when the structure also served as a morgue for the city. During the final years of the Second World War, there was a fierce scarcity of food and people were dying faster than they could be buried. Famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt is also connected to this Church in several ways. Three of Rembrandt’s children were buried at the Zuiderkerk. Because of the proximity of his house to the church, there is also speculation that he finished some of his most famous works at the church rather than his studio. Today, the Church serves as Municipal Exhibition Center, displaying Amsterdam’s future building plans.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Begijnhof Chapel

5) Begijnhof Chapel (must see)

The Begijnhof Chapel, dedicated to Saint John and Saint Ursula, is a Roman Catholic chapel run by the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, in the St Nicholas Parish of Amsterdam. Here the commemoration of the Miracle of Amsterdam is maintained. The first steps in the construction of the present chapel were taken as early as 1665, after joining two houses bought for that purpose at the initiative of parish priest Van der Mije (1665-1700); his nephew laid the foundation stone on 2 July 1671. The municipality approved the building plans on condition that the building did not look like a church from the outside. The chapel was designed by the Catholic architect in Amsterdam, Philips Vingboons (1607-78), and was dedicated to St John the Evangelist and St Ursula. In its present form, it has a gallery with a left and a right section, resting on six wooden columns. The front with its leaded ogive windows dates only from the 19th century.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to see a different side of Amsterdam; very quiet and peaceful even though you are in the middle of the city.
Can be easily combined with a visit to Amsterdam Museum.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

6) Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) (must see)

The Nieuwe Kerk or the “New Church” is located on Dam square next to the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and was built in the 14th century. This church was built since Oude Kerk (Old Church) was unable to serve the increasing number of parishioners. After being damaged by fire several times in 1645, the Church was rebuilt in Gothic style. Dutch Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima married in this Church in 2002. It has been the National Church since 1815 and has been hosting royal weddings and inaugurations.

Even though this church is tower-less, it illustrates the original early Renaissance style features. It has beautifully decorated stained glass windows which depict events like the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina. The interior has an admirable altar, great pipe organ, sepulchral monuments with the tomb of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, a Dutch Naval hero. When this Church became a Protestant one in 1578, many of its treasures were removed and frescoes were painted over.

Now the church is a popular exhibition space and is no more used for services. However, it is still used for recitals. The themes of the exhibitions keep changing; one of the famous themes was the Buddhist art of ancient Bactria. Postcards, books and gifts are sold at a museum store in the Church. A popular café adjoining the Church, the Nieuwe Café has a large outer terrace.

Why You Should Visit:
Worth seeing if you like old buildings and history in general, but don’t expect a religious experience.

Tip:
Feel free to step inside the lobby to marvel at the beautiful giant stained glass panes.
Exhibitions can be a little overpriced but good value with the I Amsterdam Card.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady)

7) Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady)

The beautiful and evocative Neogothic Style of this Roman Catholic church, dating to 1854, is certainly pleasing to the eye and easily dominates the immediate area, making for some great photographic opportunities.

The beauty of the church is not limited to its huge brick facade but extends to the interior, which has huge paintings and poignant carvings. Literally every nook and cranny and pillar is painted, and the stained glass windows only add to the grandeur.

For those seeking Sunday Mass, they are used to welcoming tourists and hold masses in English as well.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed: 11:45am–2pm / 7–8PM; Thu: 10:45am–10pm; Fri: 10:45am–8pm; Sat: 6:30–8pm: Sun: 10:45am–1pm
8
Westerkerk (West Church)

8) Westerkerk (West Church)

Located near the Jordaan district, in Prinsengracht canal, is Amsterdam's largest church in the Netherlands that was built for Protestants – the Westerkerk. Designed in Dutch Renaissance style along with a hint of Gothic, it stands out impressively with a tower replicating the crown of Habsburg emperor Maximilian I in blue, red and golden colors.

Besides its architecture, Westerkerk church is renowned for its organ concerts and its carillon - the latter either operated by a carillonneur (on Tuesdays between noon and 1pm) or automated, with different songs tinkling out on the quarter-hour, day and night (it drives some locals nuts). Anne Frank described the tunes in her diary. Rembrandt, who lived nearby during his poverty-stricken last years, and his son, Titus, are buried (somewhere) here.

Tip:
If you don't mind a cardio workout, the tower climb (open from April to October) is spectacular, both for the close-up view of the bells and also for the amazing view from the platform near the top over much of Amsterdam. The stairs at the top are fairly steep, but not too arduous.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am–3pm
9
Noorderkerk (North Church)

9) Noorderkerk (North Church)

On the Noordermarkt Square in Amsterdam, reflecting the ideals of Renaissance Protestantism, is a beautiful cross-shaped church; the Noorderkerk. The name Noorderkerk means the “northern church” and is called so since it is located in the northern part of the Jordaan neighbourhood. The architect of this church was Hendrick de Keyser, who also built the Westerkerk. This Church has a unique octagonal floor. The structure resembles a Greek cross which has four arms of equal length and each corner of this cross is occupied by annex buildings. At the centre of the cross is a small tower. Four triangular houses tucked into the cross’s angles were built in 1621 by Hendrick Staets, who wanted to make use of the available space. There is evident domination of large Tuscan pillars in the interiors of the church and on the exterior a plaque reminds us of the protests against Nazi deportation of city’s Jews in 1941. Between 1993 and 1998, the Church was restored while the organ was reinstated in 2005.

Along with being a place of worship, the Noorderkerk is also a place for classical music recitals. The Church also displays archeological artifacts in its southern annex. It is now used for Dutch Reformed Church services.

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Amsterdam is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Plantage Walking Tour

Plantage Walking Tour

Amsterdam's Plantage neighborhood has been throughout the centuries a place of rest and entertainment. Beside its impressive 19th-century architecture, there is the historic Royal Zoo, and close-by is the verdantly exotic Hortus Botanicus. Follow this self-guided walk to explore one of the greenest neighborhoods in Amsterdam – a lovely place to stroll and laze.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour

Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour

Grachtengordel (Dutch for the Canal District) is an international icon of urban planning and architecture in Amsterdam. Still very much intact after four centuries, the area is known for its small bridges, crossing the canals, and 17th-century homes. Forming a horseshoe around the Old City Centre, the Canal Ring comprises Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals, built during...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Amsterdam is the capital and the largest city of the Netherlands. It is famous for its unusual life rhythm manifested in the air of cannabis, coffee shops, the Red Light District and many other elements that keep drawing in people from the whole world all year round. Here are some suggestions on the top-rated tourist attractions of this extraordinary city.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Jewish Quarter Walking Tour

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Amsterdam has been the center of the Dutch Jewish community from the 16th century up until the Second World War. Once crowded with open-air stalls, smoking factories and tenement buildings, the Old Jewish Quarter still retains several moving reminders of the Jewish community that was torn apart during the war. Follow this self-guided walk to explore several key sights in the area, which have much...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

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It would be a pity to leave Amsterdam without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Amsterdam, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

The Western Canal Belt is one of the most scenic parts of Amsterdam, it is where the web of historic canals is most tranquil. Various attractions are found here, from tiny shops and cafes to churches, museums and galleries. Take this self guided want to see the best sights of the Western Canal Belt.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles

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