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The Wester Kerk (or West Church) and its tower are one of the most prominent symbols of Amsterdam architecture and one of the most popularly photographed images for visitors. After the 1613 population explosion and subsequent urban developments it became necessary to build additional churches and two were commissioned. One was the Noorderkerk (north Church) and the other was the WesterKerk. The Reformation and subsequent quarrel with the Catholic king of Spain resulted in Amsterdam becoming a Protestant city with only those who belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church allowed freedom of worship. The Protestants were permitted to equip their churches with towers, but all other religious denominations except the influential Jewish community, were forced underground.

The Westerkerk was planned as a facility to cater for the religious needs of the inhabitants of the northern part of the ring of canals, and as such was designed to be an expansive building. Its sister the Noorderkerk was designed for Jewish church-goers in the Jordaan area and was built on a much smaller scale. On September 9, 1620 the foundation stone for the Westerkerk was laid and it was completed sometime in 1638. With the tallest tower of any church in Amsterdam the Wester Kerk also has been said to hold the remains of Dutch master painter Rembrandt who was buried here as a poor and unknown painter, therefore his grave is unmarked …

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