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Inside de Oude Kerk | © BetacommandBot / WikiCommons
Inside de Oude Kerk | © BetacommandBot / WikiCommons

Amsterdam's Most Iconic Religious Buildings

Picture of Tom Coggins
Updated: 28 September 2016
Amsterdam has a fascinating religious history that is reflected by its monumental churches, synagogues and temples. These buildings are beautiful reminders of the city’s past and its contemporary religious landscape.

Portuguese Synagogue

During the Dutch Golden Age, thousands of ‘Portuguese’ Jews arrived in Amsterdam to escape the Inquisition. The Dutch government allowed them to practice their religion openly and in 1675 the Jewish community constructed the Portuguese Synagogue. This glorious building houses an enormous temple and is surrounded by four massive outer walls that contain an extensive rabbinic library.

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The Portuguese Synagogue
The Portuguese Synagogue | © A.A.W.J. Rietman / WikiCommons

De Zuiderkerk

De Zuiderkerk was the first protestant church in Amsterdam and was built during the Reformation. Although its construction was completed in 1611, its iconic bell tower was added a few years later. Claude Monet immortalized its colossal steeple on a trip to Amsterdam in 1874 with a phenomenal watercolor. Two of Rembrandt’s children are buried inside of the church, and during World War II it was used as an improvised morgue.

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De Zuiderkerk’s steeple
De Zuiderkerk’s steeple | © Dohduhdah / WikiCommons

De Oude Kerk

De Oude Kerk was constructed in 1213 making it the oldest building in Amsterdam. The church served the Catholic community until the Reformation when Dutch Calvinists overthrew Papal control. Like many of Amsterdam’s iconic buildings, the church’s foundations are laid on top of a huge artificial mound and it has been renovated several times over its long history. Today, it is used for cultural and religious purposes including concerts, award ceremonies and Catholic rituals.

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De Oude Kerk
De Oude Kerk | © jimmyweee / WikiCommons

De Blauwe Moskee

De Blauwe Moskee is a large mosque in Amsterdam West. Its design balances traditional Arabic architecture with modern forms and its exterior walls are adorned with aquatic motifs. The mosque was built in 2008 by several Islamic organizations in order to accommodate Amsterdam’s growing Muslim population. The congregation uses Dutch as its official language.

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De Blauwe Moskee