Our Lord in the Attic Museum
Tucked away in the heart of Amsterdam crowded streets lies a beautiful 17th century canal house from the Dutch Golden Age with a secret. A church hidden in the attic! The time was 1663 when it was still forbidden (since 1581) to celebrate Mass for Roman Catholics. This ‘house church’ was built by Jan Hartman, a wealthy Catholic merchant from Germany, who bought not only this canal house but also two houses behind it. He connected upper floors of these three buildings and converted them into a hidden church called Our Lord in the Attic or Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder in Dutch. There was nothing on the building’s façade that could suggest a Catholic place of worship was located in this house. It was a forbidden church known by many and tolerated by the authorities.
My visit to this museum was surprisingly delightful. I entered the house across the street and was ushered back underground to Hartman’s historic home to start my journey. I wandered around rooms to rooms; from reception hall with sunken ceiling panels passing by a 350-year-old kitchen, to the day room and sleeping quarters, strolling along narrow corridors going floors after floors and finally up the steep staircase which lead up to the church in the attic. What an astonishing three-story-high church!
I was in awe. I have stepped back in time!! The Attic Church was beautifully restored and bigger than I imagined. It was complete with an organ built by Hendrik Meyer in 1794, baroque altar, stucco of God the Father and the Holy Spirit, altarpieces, movable pulpit and two galleries. However, the reconstructed color of old pinkish purple shade was something to ponder about.
I let the audio guide pilot me throughout the house learning about artworks, furnishings, statues, relics, Maria chapel, confessional booth and watched several audio-visual clips explaining things further. There were original marble floors and a short complicated corner oak staircase with concave and convex steps nearly 400 years old. I guess that was why all visitors had to wear rubber booties to protect the original flooring.
Our Lord in the Attic Museum is the second oldest museum in Amsterdam after Rijksmuseum. This house and church were accessible to the public as a museum on 24 April 1888 when the new St. Nicolas church nearby was opened in 1887. In my opinion, it is one the most underrated museum. You get to explore a grand canal house, admire architecture, study period paintings and furniture, visit a church, appreciate centuries old church fixtures, get to know Amsterdam history, stories and more. A must to see!
Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38. 1012 GD Amsterdam.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 1000hrs – 1800hrs. Sun 1300hrs – 1800hrs
Entrance fees: €10.00 (adults), €5.00 (5-18yrs) and kids 0-4 years old are free.
Free entry for Museum Card holder and other cards. Check site for more details.
An audio tour is included in the admission and is available in Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian.
Getting there: 10 minutes walk from Amsterdam Central train station. It is near Oude Kerk within the Red Light District.
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes.