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It took me over seven months to get to this museum, but I’m so glad I did. It’s mentioned in a lot of guidebooks, but the confusing names and tiny location let me glaze over it for so long. (It’s variously called The Amstelkring or Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, Our Lord in the Attic). Luckily our friends’ visit back in early March was the perfect catalyst.

In the middle of the Red Light District, just down the street from some bawdy bars and clubs, in an unassuming canal house, is a hidden Catholic church. In the 1660s Amsterdam was going through some religious turbulence, and all the Catholic churches were being transformed into austere Protestant ones. If you were a Catholic, no one wanted to know about it. So the churches went into hiding, into people’s homes and ‘secret’ locations around the city.

Confessionals

A few centuries later the furor had died down, and the Church of St. Nicholas opened nearby. With the clandestine church not needed anymore, the congregation decided to turn it into a museum in 1888. I love that it’s been a museum longer than many American houses have existed!

Today it’s under renovation, scheduled to finish by 2014, but it’s still worth visiting. Not only is the church at the top fascinating, but the house itself is a beautifully preserved example of 17th and 18th century life. With a great audio tour and a big house to explore, it’s well worth your time!

Located at Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40

Museum website

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