Despite being a (very) secular country, the Netherlands has a long and rich history with religion, especially Christianity.

No matter how you feel about religion, one thing is certain. Churches are architectural masterpieces, and you do not need to be religious to enjoy their beauty.

There’s a great variety of churches in the Netherlands that are worth your time. With great vaulting roofs, Gothic details and beautiful sculptures, there’s definitely something to please your senses and give you some good ole’ eye candy.

Protestantism vs Catholicism

Before going on our architectural adventure, there are some things to note about Christianity in the Netherlands. The Dutch were one of the first people to adopt Calvinism after their independence from Spain, who supported the Catholics. Nevertheless, The Dutch allowed some level of religious independence for the Catholics.

The north of the Netherlands is generally dominated by Calvinism and Protestantism, while the south is dominated by Catholicism. At the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, the Catholics were emancipated completely through pillarization.

Nevertheless, nowadays, Christianity and religion have lost the role they used to play in society, as the country has become increasingly secular and atheistic. The churches remain, however, as proof of the strong links to Christianity this country had. Without further due, let’s get straight to them cathedrals, shall we? (We know what you’re here for).

Can you visit churches for free?

A very Dutch question, but an important one. The answer really depends from church to church. Some of them still operate classically as religious sites, so you’ll be able to go on Sundays for free. Others have become touristic spaces so you’ll need to pay a fee to get in. Some have separate fees for climbing to the top of the tower, so a bit of research beforehand is always helpful.

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Westerkerk, Amsterdam

Image: Mariamichelle/Pixabay

The Westerkerk is one of the most iconic churches not only in Amsterdam but in the whole of the Netherlands. Built to serve the Protestant community, it is also the biggest Protestant church in the country. Its tower is 86 meters long, making it the tallest church in Amsterdam, so it is certainly not hard to miss!

Entrance fee: no

Website: https://www.westerkerk.nl/english

Dom Tower, Utrecht

Image: Massimo Catarinella/Wikmedia Commons

The Dom Tower in Utrecht is the highest church tower in all of the Netherlands. The cathedral behind it was never fully finished, and the tower is not even attached to the cathedral. If you climb all the way to the top of the 112 metre-long tower, you can, on a clear day, see as far away as Rotterdam.

Entrance fee: yes

Website: https://www.domtoren.nl/en

Nieuwe Kerk (Delft)

Image: Michielverbeek/Wikimedia Commons

Next on our list is the Protestant Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. The tower was finished in 1872 and it is the second-highest in the Netherlands. One of the notable things about the church is that it’s the resting place for the members of the Royal house of Orange-Nassau. Beyond that, expect to be mesmerized by its beautiful interiors!

Entrance fee: yes

Website: http://oudeennieuwekerkdelft.nl/en

Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk, The Hague

Image: Ralf Roletschek/Wikimedia Commons

This timeless beauty from the Hague is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Its Gothic architecture is certainly notable, and it’s hard to miss, as its high tower dominates the skyline of the old historical centre of The Hague.

Entrance fee: yes

Website: https://denhaag.com/en/big-church

Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden

Image: PeteBobb/Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful Protestant church is located in Leiden and it is one of the most iconic sights of the city. The church fell into despair in the 19th Century and even considered for demolition, but thankfully after a long and intensive restoration, it was brought back to its former glory.

Entrance fee: yes, can also be rented for events

Website: https://hooglandsekerk.com/

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (Rotterdam)

Image: F.Eveleens/Wikimedia Commons

This church in Rotterdam is the last remnant of the old medieval city. You’ll find it amongst the modernist buildings of Rotterdam, as the church is one of the sole survivors in the area of the Blitz of World War II.

Entrance fee: normally yes, (can also be rented). Also holds religious sermons for free on Sundays.

Website: https://laurenskerkrotterdam.nl/en/

Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam

church in Amsterdam
Image: Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the oldest churches in Amsterdam, right in the centre of Dam square. Built back in the 15th Century, it’s a well-preserved building, showcasing exquisite gothic details.

Entrance fee: yes

Website: https://www.nieuwekerk.nl/en/

Cathedral of St Bavo, Haarlem

Image: WLoven/Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful neo-gothic Catholic church in Haarlem is definitely a stunner. It’s also one of the newer churches on the list, built between the years 1895-1930.

Entrance fee: yes

Website: https://www.grootstemuseum.nl/nl/alle-locaties-en-hun-openingstijden/kathedraal/

Basilica of Saint Servatius, Maastricht

church in Maastricht
Image: Michielverbeek/Wikimedia Commons

This church in Maastricht is a bit of an odd one out architecturally speaking, built in an eclectic Romanesque style. It’s located in the centre of the city in the Vrijthof square.

Entrance fee: yes

Website: https://www.sintservaas.nl/

Zuiderkerk, Enkhuizen

church with trees
Image: A. J. van der Waal/Wikimedia Commons

This gothic protestant church is full of history, founded back in 1424. Its pipe organ has been rebuilt to its former glory and you can enjoy concerts in its grand vaulted halls.

Entrance fee: yes, can also be reserved

Website: https://www.pgenkhuizen.nl/ons-gebouw/

Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague

Image: M. Mindehoud/Wikimedia Commons

The Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague is also known as Spinoza’s Church, as the famous philosopher is buried on the ground of the church. It was completed in 1656 and has a revamped and modern concert hall for all of your musical pleasures.

Entrance fee: yes, can also be rented for events

Website: https://www.nieuwekerkdenhaag.nl/

Saint Boniface church, Leeuwarden

Image: Udo Ockema/Wikimedia Commons

Taking a break from all these Protestant churches, it’s time for another Catholic church. This beautiful neo-gothic cathedral finished in the late 19th century, is one of the best sights to see while going around Leeuwarden.

Entrance fee: not for entering, but for visiting the tower

Website: http://www.stichtingbonifatiustoren.nl/

Marekerk, Leiden

Image: Michielverbeek/Wikimedia Commons

This iconic dome in Leiden dominates the skyline of the city and its one of the most recognizable landmarks. The church still holds services every Sunday, so you can go if you want to visit the building.

Entrance fee: no, but sometimes the church is rented for events, so check on their website beforehand

Website: https://www.marekerk.nl/

Martinikerk, Groningen

church back
Image: C. messier/Wikimedia Commons

This one is the oldest church in Groningen, with construction starting back in 1225. The tower, called Martinitoren, is the highest tower in the city, and it’s a great place to catch views over the place.

Entrance fee: yes

Website: https://www.martinikerk.nl/

Grote Kerk, Breda

church tower in Breda
Image: Michielverbeek/Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful gothic church has one of the oldest organs in the Netherlands that is still functioning. It functions as an event hall, so if you ever wondered how it is to go to a food truck inside a church, this is the place to go.

Entrance fee: no

Website: https://grotekerkbreda.nl/bezoek-de-kerk/

This sums up our list of churches to visit in the Netherlands. Which ones did you visit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Feature Image: Mariamichelle/Pixabay

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