Amstelkring Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Amstelkring Museum

Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Amstelkring Museum is a 17th century historic home in Amsterdam with a secret attic chapel.

Peta Stamper

19 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Amstelkring Museum

Amstelkring Museum is a 17th century house in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with a secret attic chapel, hence its nickname ‘Our Lord in the Attic Chapel’. The deceptively large chapel was constructed in 1663 by the house’s wealthy owner, Jan Hartman, when Catholics were forbidden from practicing their form of worship.

Our Lord in the Attic Chapel seats 150 people and has served the local Catholic parish for over 200 years. Today Amstelkring Museum provides guided tours of this attic and of the rest of the house, with exhibits of many Christian artefacts, paintings and silver.

Amstelkring Museum history

In 1578, Amsterdam changed allegiances from the Roman Catholic King Philip II of Spain to William I of Orange in what is known as the Alteratie. This rebellion not only led to the Eighty Years’ War, but Catholic Mass was outlawed in the city by Protestant authorities. However, Amsterdam enjoyed some degree of religious tolerance, as clandestine Catholic churches were silently accepted within private homes.

In 1661, a wealthy Catholic merchant, Jan Hartman, bought a grand canal house along with the 2 behind it. His son had been studying for the priesthood when Catholicism was banned in Amsterdam, and so Hartman built a beautiful chapel within his new property. The secret church took over the entire top floor of the 3 houses, and was known as ‘the Hart’, likely after the owner’s name and the stag statue outside.

The home and chapel underwent renovations in 1739 when the property was bought by a priest, Ludovicus Reiniers. He rebuilt the facade and introduced a new stairway. Reiniers also removed the stag, and so the church became ‘Our Lord in the Attic’. In 1887, a large church near the train station was dedicated as the new local parish church, but a group of Catholics purchased the attic chapel to preserve it for posterity. It was opened to the public in April 1888.

Amstelkring Museum today

Today, the Church of Our Lord in the Attic is a museum, but continues to host Catholic services every first Sunday of the months and occasionally weddings. The museum boasts many 17th century religious artefacts, as well as preserving the attic chapel itself.

The temporary exhibitions currently explore 19th century Catholic women’s fashion, as well as providing an exhibition space for fashion students of the brand Cruèl. After exploring the attic chapel and more, stop in the light and airy museum cafe for a snack.

Getting to Amstelkring Museum

Located on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal on the canal front, the easiest way to travel Amsterdam is on foot or by bicycle. Via public transport, the nearest stop is Dam only 5 minutes walk away, serving tram lines 4 and 14, as well as bus routes N85, N86 and N87.

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Netherlands Historic Sites

As the capital of the Netherlands and with more than a million people living in its urban area, Amsterdam is packed with historical sites that are well worth a visit.