Amsterdam’s 17th-century Westerkerk (Western Church) is as known for its architecture, including a spire that measures some 280 feet (85 meters), as it is for its history. Rembrandt was buried here, and in her diaries Anne Frank wrote about the church’s clock chime—one of the few outside-world experiences she had while hiding from the Nazis.
Built in the 1620s and one of the older Protestant churches in Amsterdam, the gorgeous Westerkerk was designed by star architect Hendrick de Keyser in the Dutch Renaissance style. It features beautiful architectural elements—including the city’s highest church tower, the Ouwe Wester (or Westertoren), which houses a 51-bell carillon and offers some of the best views in the city from its platform.
Entry to the church is by guided tours, which usually run every half hour. Many small-group and private city walking and bike tours stop at West Church, and daytime and evening canal cruises float past.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Westerkerk is a must-visit for architecture, history, and Rembrandt fans.
- If you visit on Sunday for a service, you won’t be able to tour the church afterward, as it closes to the public after Mass.
- Children must be 6 or older to enter the tower.
- The church itself is accessible to wheelchair users, though the tower’s viewing platform can be reached only by fairly steep stairs.
How to Get There
Westerkerk is located in the heart of Amsterdam, one block south of the Anne Frank House, between Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals. The Amsterdam Westermarkt tram stop is right in front of the church; multiple lines run to the main Centraal railway station, about 10 minutes away.
When to Get There
The church is open from 10am to 3pm Monday through Friday, and 10am to 3pm Saturday from April 1 through November 1. Services are held at 10:30am on Sundays and Christmas Day. While there are no tours on Sunday, it’s the best day to visit if you want to hear the church’s 51 bells sound through the neighborhood.
The Burning Bush
The newest feature in the church is the Burning Bush, a special chapel designed for reflection, with spaces to light candles and write down prayers. This sculpted chapel opened in 2007 and pays homage to the commonality of Abrahamic faiths as symbolized through Moses’ vision of a burning bush.