Situated right in the middle of the red light district, Oude Kerk, Old Church, is Amsterdam's oldest building dating back to 1306.
It has been undergoing extensive restoration for the last five decades and you can see evidence of this on the right hand side of the above photograph.
When the church was founded, over 800 years ago, Amsterdam was in its infancy and its history reflects the city's eventful past.
Originally it was a Catholic church with 39 richly decorated altars. When Amsterdam joined the revolt against Spain and switched from Papist to Puritan in 1578, Oude Kerk became a protestant church.
The interior is stunning in its simplicity.
This church is huge. And large parts of it are just .... space
with the ornate, yet extremely simple wooden vaulted ceiling above.
In line with Puritan principles (which this church reflects throughout) the colourful Catholic decoration was covered with grey paint. Some of the rich ornamental heritage was retrieved when restorers began working in the church after 1945. Not all painting on the vaulted ceiling is visible.
and some parts are quite ornate
The paintings on these columns are barely visible
Isn't this small office that we stumbled upon, just like a Vermeer interior?
lots of stained glass
The grave of Saskia van Uylenburgh, Rembrandt's wife.
Outside, on Oudekerksplein is the statue of Belle, erected in 2007, a tribute to sex workers worldwide.
The Sex Workers' Information Centre is nearby
as is the Golden Torso. The Torso mysteriously appeared one day, was removed by police and then put back as most people seemed to like it.