The Oude Kerk, or Old Church, is the oldest church in Amsterdam. Archaeologists believe the founding of the church dates back to the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth century. The church was later dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of seaman and bakers. In 1566 the church was fiercely looted and belongings were destroyed. For religious reasons, much of the artwork and altars were stolen or destroyed. The only surviving art was that which was too high for looters to reach (the artwork has subsequently been painted over several times). Before this massive destructive, the church was also used as a sanctuary for the homeless and the wanderers to sleep. Peddlers also came to the church to sell their goods.
Since 1912, there has been special care to restore parts of the ancient and damaged church. The Oude Kerk is also famous for its long tradition of grand organs and skilled organists. The church contained organs as early as the fifteenth century. In 1578, the church was also the center for matrimonial affairs. All married couples had to register at the Oude Kerk. The door that the couples had to pass through was red and is inscribed with “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”. Many features of the church encourage tourists to visit this beautiful destination. Ancient organs and stunning stain glass windows are sure to please eager patrons.