In this Spotlight "Amsterdam by Night" takes a closer look at the Zuiderkerk. Although this church doesn't have the fame of the Oude Kerk (Old Church) or the Westerkerk it is certainly worth a visit. Perhaps its lack of recognition is due to its hidden location in between the dense residential area in the city center. Maybe that is also what makes this church special, as the little square at the old graveyard (Zuiderkerkhof) remains a quiet oasis in the busy city center.
Construction of the Zuiderkerk
During the beginning of the 17th century, the reformed church council (hervormde kerkraad) wanted to construct a new church in Amsterdam. After the alteration, both the Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk were redesigned as Protestant churches, but the Zuiderkerk was the first that was actually build for the Protestants. The city council granted permission and 1603 saw the start of the construction work. The church was designed by city architect Hendrick de Keyser. Although the first stone was put on the 22nd of August 1603, construction was delayed due to issues regarding the funding. Only in 1611 the main building was finished, and the Zuiderkerk was inaugurated on the 22nd of May. It took till 1614 to complete construction of the tower of the church. At about 1660 the Zuiderkerk was renovated because of the construction of an orphanage.
Fame of the Zuiderkerk
The church building and the surrounding graveyard are the final resting place of city architect Hendrick de Keyser and Rombertus van Rijn (the first son of painter Rembrandt van Rijn). Also the fourth child of Rembrandt was baptized in the Zuiderkerk. In 1823, the church was very quickly visited by King Willem I. Regarding art history, the Zuiderkerk was painted in 1874 by the French impressionist painter Claude Monet who was travelling through Noord-Holland in that time.
End of the church and a new beginning
After more than 300 years the last religious ceremony, a wedding, was held on the 12th of September 1929 in the Zuiderkerk. A new function had to be found for this beautiful building. This also allowed the commencement of well-needed renovation works, and the city of Amsterdam bought the Zuiderkerk in 1968 for half a million Dutch guldens. During the 1970s, the church was restored, after which it was put to use as an exhibition room for the department of urban development. Since 1992 it also houses an information center of the city of Amsterdam. Nowadays the Zuiderkerk can be rented for events ranging from lectures and concerts to weddings and congresses. This way, the church building is still used and can be maintained for the city.
Did you like what you have read? Share this page! Prints available via the Prints page.
Back to the Spotlight