The Oude Kerk (Old Church) was the first church of Amsterdam. The Oude Kerk is located in the red-light district on the Oudekerksplein in the centre of Amsterdam. De Oude Kerk is open to the general public most days of the week, but not on Sundays.
The Oude Kerk was built sometime in the second half of the thirteenth century, replacing a small wooden chapel that was erected in 1213 to serve as a church for the surrounding settlements marking the early beginnings of Amsterdam. The new building was officially consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht, with Saint Nicolas as patron saint. During the early years of its existence the Oude Kerk was known as the Sint-Nicolaaskerk.
Over the centuries that followed the construction of the church was steadily altered and enlarged. The Oude Kerk is now Amsterdam's oldest building still in existence.
The Oude Kerk functioned as a Roman Catholic church until the year 1578, when Amsterdam officially joined the Calvinist Reformation. After the iconoclastic raids of the 16th century only a few of the original statues, altars and other religious icons in the church survived. After 1578 the church was used for Calvinist church services and a variety of other purposes.
Nowadays the Oude Kerk is used for religious and cultural activities and can occasionally also be used for private receptions and ceremonies.