John the Baptist, patron saint of the town of Gouda, looks out from the Sint Janskerk (St John Church) and welcomes visitors that come from all over the world to see the church’s famous stained-glass windows. The large brick church, built in the Gothic style during the 15th and 16th centuries, is notable not only for its beautiful windows but also because it is the longest church in the Netherlands. The church has been placed on the UNESCO list of Dutch monuments specifically for its stunning stained-glass windows. The ‘Gouda Windows’ (Goudse Glazen) were made and installed between 1555-1571 by the brothers Dirk and Wouter Crabeth, and were spared during the Reformation and several following wars. The main theme depicted in the windows is the life of St John, although there are many biblical scenes pictured, as well as important events in Dutch history.
Another highlight of the church is a narrow passage leading from the back of the choir to a small chapel. The chapel’s stained-glass windows depicting the Passion of Christ (also from the workshop of Dirck Crabeth), were moved to St John Church in the 1930s from the Monastery of the Regulars.
The church is closed to visitors on Sundays and public holidays, and does charge a small admission on days it is open to the public. A free pamphlet gives basic explanations of the scenes depicted in the stained-glass windows.