Westerkerk in 2005
|Location||Prinsengracht 281, Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Affiliation||Protestant Church in the Netherlands|
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Parish church|
|Architect(s)||Hendrick de Keyser|
|Architectural style||Dutch Renaissance|
Westerkerk (Dutch pronunciation: [ʋɛstərkɛrk]; English: Western Church) is a Dutch Protestant church in central Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It is next to Amsterdam's Jordaan district, on the bank of the Prinsengracht canal.
Several older churches in Amsterdam, such as Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk, were originally built by Roman Catholics and were converted to Protestantism during the Reformation in 1578. The Westerkerk was one of the first purposely built Protestant churches. The Noorderkerk and Zuiderkerk preceded the Westerkerk. Today the Westerkerk remains the largest church in the Netherlands that was built for Protestants.
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. 14 of the 50 church bells were made by François Hemony in 1658.
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, as is Rembrandt's son Titus van Rijn. 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.
There was no organ when the Westerkerk was consecrated on Whit Sunday in 1631. According to Calvinism, playing instrumental music inside the church was still considered 'popish' in those days. It took many years of consultation until an organ was finally allowed. At first there was still talk of moving the organ used in the Oude Kerk or the Zuiderkerk, but in 1681 the Westerkerk decided on commissioning organ builder Roelof Barentszn Duyschot for the construction of a new organ. The organ was named after its builder.
On Christmas Day in 1686, Jurriaan Bouff from Leiden was the first person to play the organ during a church service. He used to play three times on every Sunday (in those days, as many as four church services were held on a Sunday). He would also play on Thursdays and Fridays, as well as on days of thanksgiving and prayer.
The organ panels were made by Gerard de Lairesse. De Lairesse was born in Liège in 1640 and he moved to the Netherlands in 1664. In the second half of the 17th Century, he was one of the most popular painters in the Netherlands.
- Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (1620-1683), painter
- Jan Bicker (1591-1653), shipbuilder and merchant
- Joan Blaeu (1596-1673), printer, publisher and cartographer
- Steven Blankaart (1650-1704), physician and entomologist
- Samuel Blommaert (1583-1651), merchant, director of the Dutch West India Company
- Anthonie van Borssom (1631-1677), painter and draughtsman
- Pieter de Carpentier (1586-1659), Governor-General of the Dutch East India Company
- Frederick Coyett (1615/1620-1687), last Dutch governor of Dutch Formosa (present-day Taiwan)
- Govert Flinck (1615-1660), painter
- Johann Rudolph Glauber (1604-1670), German pharmacist and chemist
- Pieter van Gunst (1658/9-1732), painter
- Gillis d'Hondecoeter (ca. 1575-1638), painter
- Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1636-1695), painter
- Rembrandt van Rijn (1606/1607-1669), painter, as well as his son Titus van Rijn (1641-1668) and his mistress Hendrickje Stoffels (1626-1663) today there is nothing left of the remains of these people. After 20 years the tomb of Rembrandt was cleaned up what was usual for poor people in that time. He had been buried straight for the commemorative plaque in the church from 1906.
- Albertus Seba (1665-1736), pharmacist and collactor
- Jacques Specx (1585-1652), merchant who established the Dutch trade with Japan and Korea
- Isaak Tirion (1705-1765), book trader and publisher
- Hendrick van Uylenburgh (ca. 1587-1661), art trader
- (Dutch) Contactgegevens, Westerkerk. Retrieved on 19 June 2014.
- Martin Dunford (2010). The Rough Guide to The Netherlands. Penguin. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-1-84836-882-8.
- "The Westerkerk". Rough Guides. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
- (Dutch) Monumentnummer: 4298 - Westerkerk, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. Retrieved on 19 June 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to West Church.|
|Dutch Rijksmonument 4298|
- Westerkerk, official website