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Amsterdam New Church
(Nieuwe Kerk)

Type: Museum
Location: Dam Square, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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I n spite of its shortcomings, this is a Gothic church of the first order. Built before The Netherlands' rise to the status of global superpower, it was an ambitious effort for what was then still a small city. In fact, the church actually lacks the towers so proudly displayed by later churches and cathedrals in the city. The simple fact is that the Amsterdam ran out of money and couldn't pay to have it built. There was at least one other attempt to build a tower, and construction was even started in 1646 on a mighty steeple designed by Jacob van Campen. But the partially-completed tower was torn down in 1783. The current anemic protrusion was put up in 1847. The New Church was the second to be built in Amsterdam. Not surprisingly, the first was the Old Church. While it is called the "New Church," services are not held here. It's most important function is to serve as the hall where members of the Dutch royal family are inaugurated. It's been filling that role since 1815. In the long gaps between coronations, it is used as an art gallery with changing exhibitions. If you go, be careful with your camera. While some guidebooks will tell you that photography is allowed, ask first. You will get thrown out of the church for taking photographs while exhibitions are ongoing, even if you're not in the exhibition hall. It happened to one of our staffers.

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