Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) was consecrated in 1409 after the 13th century Oude (Old) Kerk’s congregation had vastly outgrown its capacity. The church was dedicated to St Catherine and its position beside the Royal Palace quickly made it a focal point of Amsterdam life. The Nieuwe Kerk served more than just ecclesiastical purposes throughout the centuries, being used a times as a commercial exchange, a music venue and an auditorium for graduations. The church fell victim to three damaging fires, two in the 15th century, but the worst came in the devastating fire of 1645 leaving the building roofless and its structure charred. It was after this fire that the Kerk was renovated in a more Gothic style, many of the features we see today date from this time. The pulpit, the brass choir screen and the organ, the largest organ in the Netherlands, all date from the 17th century restoration. Around 10,000 bodies lie permanently buried in the Nieuwe Kerk, including the writers such as P.C. Hooft, Joost van den Vondel and Isaac da Costa. The burying of bodies within the church was outlawed in 1866.

Due to its position next to the Royal Palace inaugurations have occurred here since the early 19th  century, Willem I being the foremost in 1814 and the most recent King Willem-Alexander in 2013, who also got married in the Kerk in 2002. Further neo-Gothic flourishes were added between 1892 and 1914. Additional renovations between 1959-80 proved so expensive that the Dutch Reformed Church transferred ownership to a cultural foundation called the Nationale Stichting De Nieuwe Kerk in 1979. Since then it has been used for music performances,  art installations, and most recently during my visit as an exhibition space for World Press Photo of the Year.

GPS: 52.37395, 4.8917

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