Noorderkerk (39)

In the seventeenth century, the peaceful district of Jordaan saw its population grow considerably, as workers and craftspeople came to live in its tranquil, isolated streets. This was at the height of the Reformation, and although the district already had a Protestant church – the Westerkerk-, the city council deemed it necessary to construct a second church for the residents in the northern part. Thus, the Noorderkerk emerged, near the site of the market known as Noordermarkt.

This new church, near the site of a popular street market full of animals, stall holders, carts and dirt, became the church for the humblest people of the district, workers and peasants and small merchants who visited the stalls. The district’s other Protestant church, the Westerkerk, on the other hand, was for the middle and upper-middle classes. 

Another parallel with the Westerkerk you should be aware of is that the Noorderkerk was designed by the same architect, the prestigious Hendrick de Keyser. 

Thus, construction began on the church in the square in 1620, although Keyser died a year later. Building was continued by his son, Pieter de Keyser, who was also to become a well-known figure in the city’s architecture in subsequent years. 

The Noorderkerk had an extremely simple design that reflected the ideals of the Renaissance and of Protestantism. It also, in turn, served as inspiration for many Protestant churches that were built in the period. 

Indeed, Keyser was able to move away from Catholic design and came up with a floor plan based on a Greek rather than a Latin cross, enlarged with three triangles in the transepts, while the choir was established in the centre. In addition, four small constructions occupy each corner of the Greek cross and a small tower rises in the centre. 

The main feature of the church’s interior, in keeping with Protestant aesthetics, is its austerity. 

The popular spirit of the area where the Noorderkerk was established is still present in the markets held here today. 

If you like flea markets and love rummaging among piles of old clothes, junk and apparently useless bizarre contraptions, you will have a great time on Monday mornings at the market held in the square. 

However, if what you like is macrobiotic products, organic food and natural therapies, then you should come on a Saturday.

At this same market you will also find thousands of types of bird on sale. Perhaps you will not be able to take one home, but the appearance of the coloured birds and their noisy song is extremely pastoral.

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