Renowned for its heaving tourist crowds,
raucous atmosphere and infamous window displays, Amsterdam’s boisterous Red
Light District is the last place you would expect to find one of the capital’s
most enchanting cultural gems, Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, a remarkable museum
drenched in history, charm, and above all, inimitability.
picturesque waterway in the heart of the old city, passersby would certainly be
forgiven for failing to notice one of Amsterdam’s most unique and rewarding
attractions, residing inconspicuously behind the facade of a quintessential
canal side dwelling. This exceptional monument allows its guests to delve into
the city’s Golden Age and explore a typical 17th century townhouse,
which secretes the added treasure of a stunning Catholic church, tucked away
into the lodging’s upper three levels.
begins in 1661, when an affluent merchant by the name Jan Hartman purchased a
prestigious property comprising of three adjoining houses. He began
refurbishing immediately, transforming the residence into a lavish setting
abounding with luxury, encapsulated by the splendid salon, which is one of the
best preserved living rooms of the Dutch Golden Age.
period of Protestant Amsterdam, the public practising of Catholicism was
forbidden, although a large community of followers inhabited the local
community. In order to maintain their pious custom, clandestine prayer rooms
were established within their own homes, granting the freedom to worship
privately in peace. Being a devout Catholic himself, Hartman decided to
construct a church distributed across the entire attic floor of his three
abodes, an ambitious project that has emphatically stood the test of time.
designed and spacious enough to house a generous congregation, this secret
setting served as the neighbourhood’s parish church for an astonishing two
hundred years until the dedication of the substantial St. Nicolas’s Church
superseded the loft conversion in 1887. Thankfully, a group of Catholics pooled
their resources to buy the property and rescue it from demolition, subsequently
opening its doors as a museum the following year, making it the second oldest
monument that exists today is a credit to the city and the individuals that
have preserved the building’s authenticity and heritage through a series of
renovations. The most recent of which is almost complete, a three year
restoration that has been conducted with the utmost respect and mastery,
transforming the museum into an enriching and accommodating environment that is
certain to impress.
fascinating audio tour comes free with admission, guiding you through the
dwelling’s nooks and crannies and past the 17th century furnishings,
leading you up the narrow staircases into the museum’s tour de force, the
inspirational church itself, which boasts two wooden galleries, marble columns,
gilded capitals and a beautifully reconditioned organ. The sheer architectural
accomplishment is enough to take your breath away and the peaceful atmosphere
lingers evocatively, humbling its visitors with an aura of centuries gone by.
Heer op Solder still operates as an active place of worship, offering unique
mass services every first Sunday of the month. However, this cherished
Amsterdam institution is first and foremost a museum, one of the city’s most
tranquil and undisturbed, which comes highly recommended for an afternoon of
For opening times, admission costs and more
information regarding Our Lord in the Attic Museum, please visit the
organisation’s website at www.opsolder.nl/eng/home.php.