Sint Nicolaaskerk, Amsterdam

Sint Nicolaaskerk

The Basilica of St. Nicholas, officially called St. Nicholas inside the Walls, with its two prominent towers and 58 m (190 ft) high dome, is located in the city center, across from the Central Station and near the water of the Oude­zijds Kolk. Saint Nicholas (of Myra) is Amsterdam’s patron saint and also protects sailors and prostitutes, so this church, between the water of the IJ and Amsterdam’s Red Light district, is quite appro­priate here. The church got the honorary title Basilica in 2012 and is a national monument since 1974.

Saint Nicholas Church, Amsterdam, seen from across the Prins Hendrikkade

Basilica of Saint Nicholas Inside the Walls on a cloudy day, seen from across the Prins Hendrik­kade (February 2022).

The Church Building

Built between 1884 and 1887 it was designed by architect Adrianus Bleijs (1842-1912) in Neo-Baroque and Neo-Renaissance revival styles. This was the third church in Amsterdam by that name: the first was the current Oude Kerk (Old Church), whose Catholic interior was ruined during the Icono­clastic Fury and the 1578 Alteration. The second church of St. Nicholas was the Catholic hidden church on Oude­zijds Voor­burg­wal, now known as Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic).

Saint Nicholas Church, Amsterdam seen from the side of the Oudezijds Kolk

Saint Nicholas Church seen from the side of the Oude­zijds Kolk (January 2020).

On the front the building has two towers (slightly asym­metrical because the space on which the church was built was limited in the inner city) and a big rose shaped window. The wall paintings inside the church, depicting the life of Saint Nicholas, were mostly done by Jan Dunselman (1863-1931), over a period of nearly 40 years (1891-1928). The statues were done by sculptor Pierre Elysée van den Bossche (1849-1921). A new altar was placed in 2012, with the Miracle of Amsterdam (a host which refused to burn in 1345) depicted in the bronze base.

Entrance of the Saint Nicholas Church, Amsterdam, on Prins Hendrikkade

Entrance of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas Inside the Walls on Prins Hendrik­kade (February 2022).

Restoration & Services

After being neglected for a long time, the church was restored from 1997 to 2001. Catholic services are held here in Dutch, English and Spanish — on Sunday afternoons (from September to June) Gregorian vespers are sung by Schola Cantorum Amsterdam. The restored 19th century Sauer-organ is played in the summer by organ players from all over the world.

St. Nicholas Church, Amsterdam, on a postcard from around 1900

St. Nicholas Church seen from the Prins Hendrik­kade, postcard from around 1900 (Stads­archief Amsterdam).

Photo Gallery of the St. Nicholas Church (February 2022)

Website of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas:

Website of the Foundation Music in St. Nicholas Church:

Website of the Schola Cantorum Amsterdam:

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