Tour an ancient church with a leaning bell tower where many leading figures of Dutch history are buried and commemorated.
As you approach the Oude Kerk, one feature stands out above all others. That is the noticeable lean of its bell tower toward the canal. During construction, it was discovered that the foundations were not strong enough to support the 245-foot (75-meter) high structure. Attempts to correct the tilt failed. After studying the lean, step inside the 13th-century Gothic church to marvel at the stained-glass windows and see memorials to leading figures in the history of the Netherlands.
There are 27 stained-glass windows to inspect, each one featuring a different story. The original windows were damaged in a fire in 1536 and again in a 17th-century accidental explosion that destroyed a lot of the city. Those you see today are replacements from the 20th century. Study their depictions of historic events such as the Treaty of Munster and stories from the Bible.
As you tour the church, stop by the graves and memorials of important Dutch figures. See the memorial stone of 17th-century painter Johannes Vermeer. Go over to the mausoleum of Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek, the scientist who improved early microscopes. Admire the beautiful carvings on the tomb of Maarten Tromp, a 17th-century admiral in the Dutch navy.
The church has two large pipe organs and one small one, which you get to hear if you attend Sunday services. The organs can also be heard in concerts that are performed regularly at the church. For details of the performance schedule visit Oude Kerk’s official website.
Another feature to check out while you are here is the wooden pulpit which dates back to 1548.
You can tour the Oude Kerk on any day of the week, except Sundays. There is an admission fee with discounts for students. Children up to 11 years of age get in for free. The price of the ticket also includes admission to Nieuwe Kerk, the new church.