|Architect||Hendrick de Keyser|
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In the Nieuwmarkt area, not far from the Sint Antoniesluis, is one of Amsterdam’s iconic churches: Zuiderkerk. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the city governors took the decision to build the church, to a design by the city architect Hendrick de Keyser. It was opened in 1611 and the tower was completed three years later.
The church can be accessed from Sint Antoniesbreestraat via the gateway of the cemetery Zuiderkerkhof. This gateway was designed by De Keyser’s son-in-law, Nicholas Stone and features skulls on both sides. ‘Ordinary citizens’ were buried in the cemetery, while those of a higher status were buried in the church. Rembrandt van Rijn’s first born child, who died aged not quite three months, is also buried in the church. The painter paid four guilders for the funeral.
This Protestant church is built in the Renaissance style, with classical ornaments and forms. Construction began in 1603 but was suspended for a number of years due to lack of funds and an outbreak of the plague. The church was officially opened in 1611, although the church tower and surrounding enclosure were not completed until 1614. The last church service, a wedding, took place in 1929. The building fell into disrepair and was closed in 1970. Restoration work began in the late 1970s and the architect Hans Hagenbeek adapted the interior to a new use, with mezzanine floors and glass walls. The building was subsequently used by the city’s planning department and housing department. In recent years it has been used as a venue for events.
Further restoration of the church and tower began in 2011. The local council, Stadsdeel Centrum, commissioned Archivolt architects to draw up a plan for the desalination of the building’s exterior and the restoration of the roof covering. The restoration programme was completed in 2012, thereby ensuring the building’s continued use. (ARCAM/RB)