West Church, Amsterdam

The Westerkerk, in which the magnificent wedding of Princess (later Queen) Beatrix to Claus von Amsberg took place in 1966, is the most popular church in the city. Its tower, popularly known as "Langer Jan" (tall John), which at 85 m (279ft.) is the highest in the city, serves as a symbol of Amsterdam. After the town went over to Protestantism Hendrick de Keyser began the building in 1620 of the Renaissance church which, uncharacteristically, has many internal and external Gothic features. After de Keyser's death the building was completed in 1630 by Jacob van Campen, and the tower added. On the tip of the spire is the emperor's crown, in memory of Emperor Maximilian of Austria who, in 1489, was cured of an illness in Amsterdam and gave the city his protection and the right to include his crown in its coat of arms. A carillon inside the tower proclaims the hours. Its hammer weighs 200 kg (440 lb) and the largest of the 48 bells weighs 7,500 kg (3-1/4 tons). The church was consecrated in 1631 with a Whitsun service. The people of the surrounding Jordaan district stayed away at first because of the upper classes from along the canals who came here to worship. They wanted a church of their own which they finally acquired with the Noorderkerk. Besides a fine organ (1622) the church contains an interesting marble column placed there in 1906 in memory of Rembrandt. Rembrandt, who died in poverty, was initially buried outside the church. He was only subsequently reinterred inside the church and his (probably empty) grave is in its northern section.

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