One of my favourite things to when I visit a different country is to stroll around, get lost and see what hidden gems I can find. Amsterdam was no exception to this and boy, did I find a hidden gem! I’m excited to share this with you, because I think even though it’s one so obviously in your face once you know about it. The rightly incredibly famous place next door usually dominates that area of Amsterdam you see. So, let’s talk about The Westerkerk!
Located right next door to Anne Frank’s House, the Westerkerk (church) is one of Amsterdam’s greatest joys. Created in 1619 – 1631 (construction finally finishing in 1638) Westerkerk is one of the tallest (protestant) churches in all The Netherlands.
The Westerkerk is open all year around to tourists except Sundays, where a religious service still takes place to this day. Inside, a few could argue that the beautiful organ is the main star of the show. Rightly so, but, between April – August, tourists can climb to the very top! This is where you can see an incredible view of all of Amsterdam and my opinion, the best secret about this beautiful church.
Let’s talk a little more history about what’s inside the Westerkerk. The organ itself was not added until around 1686. Back then, it was considered completely outrageous to have any sort of music playing in a religious environment like a church! Unfortunately, the creator of the organ did die towards the very end, and this was finished by his son. The organ itself has had much more work done through out the years. Varying in sound, shape and even size. You can hear the organ play if you are visiting between April – October. This always takes place on Friday at 1pm. However, if you are visiting in August, this takes place every day.
Which leads me to my next point… The Tower (The Westertoren)!
You can visit the top of the tower between April – August only. This costs around 9 Euros and is a guided tour, which leaves every 30 minutes. We didn’t know this was a guided tour, so we had to wait a couple of hours for the next slot to become available. Only 6 people at a time can go to the top. You can only reserve your tour times by heading to the church its self (as far as I am aware, I couldn’t find anything online!). I’d suggest doing this at the start of the day and later coming back. You can also give them a ring if you want a private tour instead, but this may cost more money! (020 – 624 77 66)
The Stairs are quite steep and narrow at some points, and as you get higher, they become more like a ladder as you climb. For this reason, they ask you to place all your belongings (apart from a camera or a phone) in the cloak room down stairs. There are no lift facilities for this tower and the tour lasts around 30 minutes. There are stops in between so you can catch your breath too. Believe me, you’ll need these as the climb is not too bad, but I am unfit so… there we are. Haha.
Once at the top, you will honestly forget about the climb! Your guide leaves you to it at this point, so take as much photos as you can.
Here is a few more facts about the Westerkerk that you might like!
- The famous artist Rembrandt is buried somewhere inside here! No one knows exactly, so there is a silver plaque outside to honour him.
- The Westerkerk was built in a Renaissance style
- One special days to Amsterdam, their flag flies high on the very top
- The very top is also decorated with a yellow crown. This was originally blue and was given as a gift. It is unknown why it was painted yellow in 1096!
- The Church Bells were were a great comfort to Anne Frank. She even wrote about them in her diary! but in 1943, they were stolen by the Nazi’s and later returned and hung in their proper place
- The Tower is 278 feet tall/85 Metres! (try not to think of this as you climb!)
- The bells were created in 1658, and the heaviest are still in use to this day!
How to get there:
The Westerkerk is right next door to the Anne Frank House. You can grab bus 170 or 172 and the stop will be titled “Westermarkt/Anne Frank House) Alternatively you can grab tram lines 13 or 17.
The official address is here:
Westerkerk in Amsterdam
That concludes this gem from Amsterdam. Have you ever visited this church? Let me know