Selfie with the King at the Nieuwe Kerk

My wife and I are fairly new transplants to Amsterdam, and all the rainy weather inspired me to ask for a less predictable birthday present: a museum card. After the unfortunate cancellation of many picnics due to soggy ground, we longed for a nice way to spend a Saturday inside.  Since we both love culture and history, the promise of unlimited museum visits was too tempting to pass up.

Oh, and our competitive nature caused us to challenge ourselves to visit as many of the museums as possible.  This article is the first step in a larger journey…


Stop #1:  De Nieuwe Kerk

The day we decided to buy our museum card, we had ambitious plans to be out the door bright and early.  We would buy our cards at one museum, and then we’d dash through before visiting a second. And, maybe even a third!

But, it was raining.  So, we drank coffee, ate soup, and watched TV.  Hours and hours of falling water convinced us the rain would never stop, so we decided to rewrite our plan. The new strategy was to go to the closest place that sells the tickets (with not much time left before they lock the doors).

We splashed through puddles on our way to the Dam Square, and we went through a big, beautiful entrance way.  While buying our passes, the polite ticket lady inadvertently switched between English and Dutch (when she found out we were living here), and it made us realize that our new adventure has caused us to blur the line between “local” and “tourist.”


The History

The Old Church (Oude Kerk) wasn’t quite large enough for the faithful crowd in the 15th century, so the local bishop gave the go ahead to create a new house of God to help.  After many hours of brainstorming, they wisely decided to name it the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk).  Brilliant!

Dam Square with the Nieuwe Kerk in the 17th century
Dam Square with the Nieuwe Kerk in the 17th century

Unfortunately, the building has had its challenges since then.  Fires, monetary problems, and other issues have caused it to be almost completely rebuilt, and it’s no longer serving as an actual church.  The good news is that a special organization is keeping watch, and they’ve filled it with art, culture, history, and entertainment.


Major Events

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this church has become irrelevant, however.  Important royal events take place here, and it was within these walls that the last few monarchs went in as a princess/prince and came out a queen/king.

Also, if you were invited to a wedding by King Willem-Alexander back in 2013, you would have gone to this building to see him tie the knot with the lovely Máxima.


The Selfie

I mentioned a selfie, but it wasn’t really as glamorous as I like to think.  In the back of the church, there’s a giant photo of the royal family with big smiles on their faces.  We saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hold a smartphone in front of our faces, and we took advantage of it.

Unfortunately, my wet arms took a blurry picture trying to fit the larger-than-life royal family in with myself and my tiny wife.  Oh well.

The selfie. Unfortunately, the King wasn't fully in it. I guess we'll have to try again.
The selfie. Unfortunately, the King wasn’t fully in it. I guess we’ll have to try again.

Visitation Verdict

So, aren’t you wondering if I recommend visiting the Nieuwe Kerk or not? Maybe.  If you have a museum card, then definitely.  If you don’t, the price isn’t outrageous to walk through a little bit of history, but you might find something else to be more to your taste.


Some of the highlights:

  • Really convenient location in the Dam Square
  • Free audio tours
  • Nice videos showing the history of the church and the royal family
  • Organ recitals
  • Constantly changing exhibitions
  • And, of course, the opportunity for the most regal selfie you’ll ever take
Willem-Alexander is also very skilled in the art of selfie-taking
Willem-Alexander is also very skilled in the art of selfie-taking

See you soon, on my next museum adventure!


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