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Sint Nicolaaskerk - Church of Saint Nicholas

Sint Nicolaaskerk - Church of Saint Nicholas (48)

This striking building, which presides the chaotic scene of trams, buses, cyclists and pedestrians at the exit of the Central Station, symbolises the end of the religious intolerance that Amsterdam suffered in the seventeenth century, when the practice of Catholicism was forbidden. 

At the time, there emerged many secret chapels, which were located in private houses or in private courtyards. This is the case of the chapel of “Our Lord in the Attic”, which was hidden in the attic of a wealthy merchant’s house and consecrated to Saint Nicholas, the city’s patron saint. Although this saint was privately worshipped in this small chapel, with the construction of this church in 1887, somehow worship of Saint Nicholas became official and the small chapel grew less important. The era in which Catholics were persecuted by Protestants had passed away. 

The church was designed by the architect A. C. Bleijs, and contains noteworthy elements in Neo-renaissance and Neo-baroque styles. Its striking, austere appearance is mainly the result of the two towers that face the area previously occupied by the dock. Between the two towers, a rose window appears proudly, with bas-relief in the centre, featuring Jesus Christ and the four evangelists. The sculpture on the façade by Bart van Hove, in which Saint Nicholas is represented, also dates from 1886. 

Other highlights of the structure are the crowned octagonal tower with a Baroque dome and cross, the raised choir, and the Latin-cross floor plan. 

This Catholic church is one of the Dutch capital’s most outstanding examples of recent religious architecture and recovers elements from the most magnificent styles. It is totally integrated into the city, and is loved by everyone because of what it meant in the city’s history: Catholic emancipation and the start of a new era of religious tolerance.

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