On Saturday March 9 Amsterdam celebrated the first ever Open Tower Day. Although the Dutch city, much like the rest of the country, is renowned for its flatness, Amsterdam is peppered with several large church towers which offer a rarely seen vantage point over the capital.
When in Amsterdam got the chance to visit the Zuiderkerktoren. Built in 1614, the Zuiderkerk was the first Protestant built church in Amsterdam. Designed by architect Hendrick de Keyser in the renaissance style, the church is situated in the centre of Amsterdam's old Jewish neighbourhood.
Entering the tower through a small side door, we were greeted by a typical narrow and winding Amsterdam staircase. It took 139 steps to reach the top of the tower, but the journey up was broken into small sections as we were explained the various parts of the tower.
The carillon inside the tower normally operates through machinery setting off the bells every 15 minutes. Every Thursday, however, a carillonist performs, treating the surrounding areas to a concert of Mozart, Bach or Handel.
The bells in the tower were designed by the brothers Hemony, famous for making the best bells in Europe. This large central bell, however, is much older than the church itself. It was originally located in the Oudekerk in the Red Light District, however after the reformation this "Catholic bell" was removed from the church as a sign of the Protestant victory and installed in the Zuiderkerk.
Having reached the top, the views were spectacular. Despite the ordinary weather (Amsterdam can still have brutal winter days in March, so pack appropriately!) it was great to see the city from such a unique angle. The Zuiderkerktoren features in so many photographs and even a painting by Claude Monet, so it was a terrific opportunity to take some pictures from the other side!
The best view, however, was looking back towards the city centre. In this picture you can see the Westertoren, the Royal Palace, the New Church, the Beurs van Berlage, the Old Church, the Bushuis, Centraal Station, St. Nicholas Church and even de Waag. Wow!
When in Amsterdam... get high (without going to a coffeeshop) and take some photos!