Westerkerk

Architecture & Buildings

Europe, Netherlands, Amsterdam

The Westerkerk ("western church") is a church of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands denomination in Amsterdam, built in 1620-1631 after a design by Hendrick de Keyser. It is next to Amsterdam's Jordaan district, on the bank of the Prinsengracht canal. The spire, called the Westertoren ("western tower"), is the highest church tower in Amsterdam, at 85 meters (279 feet). The crown topping the spire is the Imperial Crown of Austria of Maximilian I. The church bells were made by Fran├žois Hemony in 1648. Rembrandt van Rijn was buried in the Westerkerk on October 8, 1669. The exact location of the grave is unknown, but presumed to be somewhere along the northern wall. Rembrandt's lover Hendrickje Stoffels is also buried here, and his son Titus van Rijn may also be. Other painters buried in the Westerkerk are Nicolaes Berchem, Gillis d'Hondecoeter, Melchior d'Hondecoeter and Govert Flinck. The church organ is decorated with doors painted by Gerard de Lairesse. The Westerkerk is located close to the Achterhuis (now Anne Frank House) where diarist Anne Frank, her family and others hid from Nazi persecution for two years during World War II. The Westerkerk is mentioned frequently in her diary - its clock tower could be seen from the attic of the Achterhuis and Anne Frank described the chiming of the clock as a source of comfort. A memorial statue of Frank is located outside the church. Near the Westerkerk is the Homomonument, a memorial for men and women persecuted for their homosexuality. On March 10, 1966, Queen Beatrix (then Princess Beatrix) married Prince Claus in the Westerkerk. There are also churches called Westerkerk in other Dutch towns, including Leeuwarden, Enkhuizen, Amersfoort, Bunschoten, Ermelo and Capelle aan den IJssel.