The origins of the Oude Kerk (Old Church) date from early 13th century, when a wooden church was built on a sandy burial ground. The present Gothic structure is 14th-century
and it has grown from a single-aisled church into a basilica.
The Oude Kerk, the oldest church in Amsterdam, is now a centre of cultural activities.
The beautiful light through the high windows, the medieval church furnishing, gravestones
and the magnificent painted wooden vaults, create a unique atmosphere of the buildings' unique history.
More than three centuries had passed before the Oude Kerk, the earliest parish church Amsterdam, attained its present form. The church has almost as many chapels as there
have been building phases. The earliest building phase however is lost in the mist of time.
Archaeologists think that the "Amstelledammers", founded their first church at the turn
of the 13th and 14th century. As the site they chose a "terp" (artifcial mound) on the
east bank of the Amstel which served as a cemetery.
The church was built in the form of a basilica, and the building was 40m long. But soon
the size wasn't sufficient.
Evidently neither the diocese nor the authorities had taken into account that municipal
rights had been granted to the town in 1300 by the Count of Holland. This resulted in a dynamic proces of economic development which tempted many merchants and
countrypeople to come to the budding town.
The church was dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of seamen and curiously
enough later also of bakers.