Secret Amsterdam church included on EU heritage list

The outside of the church and the shop next door. Photo: Rebekka Mell

Amsterdam museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (our dear lord in the attic), a former secret church in the red light district, has been included on the official European cultural heritage list.

Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder is a Catholic church that was able to keep serving its 500-strong flock in Protestant Amsterdam. This was because the authorities turned a blind eye to continuing Catholicism as long as it was not too visible. 

The church, hidden in the top floors of a merchant’s home on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, is a symbol of 17th century religious freedom in Europe, according to the European Commission. 

“Freedom of thought, conscience and religion are central to the European idea of rule of law…. Europe has a long history of religious strife, to which the many examples of hidden places of worship attest,” the commission said. 

The church is the fifth Dutch inclusion on the EU listing. The others are the Peace Palace in The Hague, Kamp Westerbork, the Maastricht Treaty and the Koloniën van Weldadigheid, or colonies of benevolence in Groningen and Drenthe.

The EU listing was established in 2013 and sites are selected for their “symbolic value, the role they have played in European history and the activities they offer”. The list currently includes 67 locations. 

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