NileGuide Expert Says:
Quintessential Amsterdam Experience
Old City Centre/Old Side
NileGuide Expert tip:
If the Old Church isn't inspiring enough, right next to it is the Old Church Coffeeshop, a place where you can sit and take in all of the city's contrasts. In front of the church you will also find Belle, a small statue that is the first to be dedicated to sex workers around the world.
The Oude Kerk, or Old Church, is Amsterdam's oldest church, dating from the1300s. The church is conveniently located in the old city center, walking distance from Centraal Station, which used to be the site of the city's main port. Sailors would stop in town for a night, visit the bars and prostitutes, then go to church to buy an indulgence, or "get out of hell free card", before heading back out to sea. It was important to buy this indulgence, as such sea journeys were very dangerous and many men never made it back. Ensuring they went to heaven in case of a tragic accident gave them peace of mind, and the Church's strategic position in the heart of the Red Light District earned it a great deal of money - everyone was happy.
These days the church is no longer active but serves as a center for art exhibitions. The famous World Press Photography exhibition starts its world-wide tour at the Oude Kerk each year in June. During periods of no exhibitions, the impressive church is worth a visit on its own.