Churches Walking Tour, Amsterdam (Self Guided)

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 tour to visit the most important religious sites in the city.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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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: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
Author: clare
Noorderkerk (North Church)

1) 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.
Westerkerk (West Church)

2) Westerkerk (West Church)

Located near Amsterdam’s Jordaan district, in Prinsengracht canal, is the highest church- The Westerkerk. The 85 meter high structure is one of the oldest churches in the city and its tower, topped with a blue, red and golden crown is symbolic of the imperial crown of Maximilian the First of Austria. Initially, this Church was built by the city architect Hendrick de Keyser but after his death in 1621, his son Pieter took over. Built for Protestant service, this church exhibits Dutch Renaissance style along with a hint of Gothic style.

Westerkerk is not just known for being the highest church but also for its historic importance. The Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn was buried in the northern part of the church in 1699, along with Hendrickje Stoffels, his lover and Titus, his son. Other painters like Nicolaes Berchem, Gillis d’Hondecoeter and Govert Flinck are also buried in the church premises. The frequently mentioned clock tower and the chimes of the church in Anne Frank’s diary refer to the Westerkerk since the Achterhuis (Anne Frank house) is located close to the church. Princess Beatrix (present Queen of The Netherlands) and Prince Claus were married in this Church.

The Westerkerk now plays an important role in the cultural and religious life of Amsterdam. It is famous for the annual Good Friday performance of Bach’s St. John Passion by the Choir of Westerkerk and the monthly cantatas are also well- known. The ecumenical nature of the Sunday service attracts many worshippers from not only Amsterdam but from all over.
Church of Our Lady

3) Church of Our Lady

Amsterdam has many beautiful churches like Westerkerk and Noorderkerk. The Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk more commonly known as the Church of Our Lady is one among them. Built in the 11th century, run by the Opus Dei, this is a Roman oratory church founded by Redemptorist Fathers and is situated in the St. Nicholas Parish. Hearing of confessions and choral liturgy is of major importance in this church.

If you want to experience the magic of Michelangelo’s work then a visit to this church is a must. There are plenty of his sculptures which are as alluring as the “Madonna and Child”. The beauty of the church is not limited to its huge brick tower; it extends to the interior of the church which has huge paintings and poignant carvings. The stained glass windows add to the beauty of this architectural marvel. Adjoined to this church is a museum, the Gruuthuse museum which is 122 meters high. This museum exhibits the church’s treasures and also has excavated tombs underneath which can be seen on payment of a small fee.

This church has services like Vigil Eucharist, Eucharist for the Italian and Surinam community, High Mass along with Latin hymns and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

4) 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.

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
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
Zuiderkerk (South Church)

6) Zuiderkerk (South Church)

One of the prettiest towers in Amsterdam that even inspired 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
Oude Kerk (Old Church)

7) 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.

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
St. Nicolaaskerk

8) 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

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

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

Plantage is a neighborhood of Amsterdam, located in the Centrum district. It dates back to the 1600s and has been throughout the centuries a place of rest and entertainment. It is one of the greenest neighborhoods in Amsterdam, in part thanks to the fact that is home to the Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, and the Artis Zoo.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Museum Quarter Walk

Museum Quarter Walk

The museums of Amsterdam are among the main tourist attractions of the city. Some of its museums are quite small, but nevertheless important, and some, like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are world famous and should not be missed. This tour gives you an opportunity to visit Amsterdam's most renowned museums and learn more about history, art and even the world of diamonds.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

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: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
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: 3.8 km
Canal Belt Nightlife

Canal Belt Nightlife

A major cosmopolitan city with an absolutely electrifying nightlife scene, Amsterdam offers a variety of entertainment, from live music to underground house music, including ultra-chic to casual hangouts. Amsterdam is also home to variety of bars and clubs located inside historic buildings, allowing some of these former establishments to live on thematically, including the industrial chic of a...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Jordaan Walking Tour

Jordaan Walking Tour

The Jordaan is a district of the city of Amsterdam. It was originally a working class neighborhood, but in recent years it has become quite upscale and home to many museums and art galleries, particularly those focused on modern art. The district is also dotted with specialty shops, markets and restaurants. This tour is a perfect opportunity to see the main attractions of the district of Jordaan.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Dutch Sweets and Pastries

Dutch Sweets and Pastries

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Top 7 Dutch Cheeses to Try in Amsterdam

Top 7 Dutch Cheeses to Try in Amsterdam

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Bars of De Pijp, Amsterdam

Bars of De Pijp, Amsterdam

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The Oldest and Historic Pubs of Amsterdam

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Amsterdam for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Amsterdam has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Amsterdam's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the I Amsterdam City Card, Amsterdam City Pass, Amsterdam City Pass Plus, or Amsterdam Pass (by Stromma).

A city pass combines all or multiple Amsterdam' top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Amsterdam hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Hotel TwentySeven, Swissôtel Amsterdam.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Amsterdam, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Amsterdam typically costs from around US$25 up to US$40 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat calling at all of Amsterdam's major attractions, museums and shopping centers. En route, you can listen in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages and get on and off at any of the stops along the way as often as you like.

- Discover Amsterdam with the taste of beer on a relaxing 75-minute canal cruise gliding past beautiful bridges, buildings and houseboats, calling at the former Heineken brewery for an ultimate cultural experience and a free pint to enjoy.

- Pedal your way around Amsterdam's quirky quarters and picturesque waterways on a guided city bike tour. In the course of 3 hours you will visit the city's eclectic sights stopping at the most notable of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Take a morning walk around Amsterdam with a knowledgeable guide for an insider view of Holland's most fascinating city. This tour will take you along Amsterdam's enchanting canals to its must-see attractions away from tourist crowds. A complete overview of Amsterdam from the ground up!

- Treat yourself to some of the best Dutch and international delicacies Amsterdam has to offer on a 3-hour food journey across the city visiting, among other locations, a typical local market, beer garden, and a family-run restaurant.

- Step back in time to the dark years of the German occupation of Holland during World War II on a 2-hour historical walking tour of Amsterdam. Feel what it was like, learn the story of Anne Frank, visit the Jewish Quarter and other memorable places.

- Visit the infamous Red Light District, once the most dangerous part of Amsterdam, now synonymous with the city itself. See how the area has transformed, over the years, from the dark “gutter” with shady dens of vice to the lively district with welcoming pubs and restaurants.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Amsterdam, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Giethoorn, Bruges, Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof, and Holland’s countryside. For as little as US$50+ to US$180+ per person you will get a chance to discover “Venice of The Netherlands” and the Garden of Europe, visit one of the most captivating cities in Belgium, explore the charming Dutch villages with eye-catching windmills and picturesque canals, acquaint yourself with the traditional Dutch crafts (clog- and cheese making), taste the local pancakes and cheeses, and so much more! For any of these tours you may be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Amsterdam, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan to the destination of your choice and back again.