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Visiting the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Old, and more recently royal in its associations

Updated on October 31, 2014
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
The Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
The Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam | Source
Princess Máxima and Prince Willem-Alexander visiting the White House, Washington DC, 2009
Princess Máxima and Prince Willem-Alexander visiting the White House, Washington DC, 2009 | Source
Map location of Amsterdam municipality
Map location of Amsterdam municipality | Source

A number of unique features

This church building in Amsterdam, The Netherlands is so widely referred to even by English-speaking visitors as the Nieuwe Kerk, that I am retaining it in the original Dutch form for this article. The first thing, however, you need to know about the Nieuwe Kerk is that it's old. Despite its name suggesting it's supposedly 'New', it actually was built from about 1385 onwards.

A series of damaging fires in the 15th and 17th centuries caused considerable rebuilding work to be done, and, with further renovations accomplished within the past century, the neo-Gothic style, evidenced by its pointed and pinnacled features. Indeed, Gothic arching is a recurring building pattern. A massive sundial hangs over the Gothic window facing the Dam, (where, next to the Royal Palace, the building is located).

Royal associations

Another thing you need to know about the Nieuwe Kerk is that it is the venue for Dutch Royal events, such as coronations and weddings.

Thus, it was here, in descending chronological order, that in 2002 Crown Prince Willem-Alexander was married to Princess Máxima of The Netherlands, the former Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti. (Technical note: the bride's father wasn't allowed into the Nieuwe Kerk to give her away (1) .)

It was here that reigning Queen Beatrix was crowned in 1980. It was here, also, that important thanksgiving services have been held, such as to commemorate the Liberation of The Netherlands in 1945.

The current Dutch Royal Dynasty has reigned as monarchs since the early 19th century. Bear in mind, though, that from 1385 to the early 19th century was rather a long time, so the church's royal associations are, at least relatively speaking, recent.

Absence of religious emphasis

Another thing about the Nieuwe Kerk is that, approaching from certain angles, you would hardly know it was supposed to be a church building, because, in typically Dutch practical style, a row of houses has been built in front of it, leaving only the entrance onto the Dam exposed (a local slant on mammon, perhaps?) Indeed, nowadays it isn't really supposed to be a church building at all, in any case, because religious services are not deemed to be important enough to be held in it with any regularity.

Instead, the building is used for conferences on politics and the environment (mammon Made in The Netherlands, again, maybe?)

Officially, it is called a museum.

July 2, 2012


(1) This was because Señor Jorge Zorreguieta Stefanini was found by a Dutch Parliamentary commission to have been less than frank about recollections he was deemed to have had of crimes against humanity in Argentina, in whose military government he served from 1979 to 1981.

Also worth seeing

In Amsterdam itself, included among the numerous visitor attractions are: the Dam, with its National Memorial, and the Royal Palace; the Anne Frank House at Prisengracht 263-265; the Munt tower (Dutch: Munttoren ); the fine Central Railroad Station; and many others.


How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam-Schipol Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services between Amsterdam-Schipol and Downtown Amsterdam . There is car rental availability at Amsterdam airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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