Oude Kerk (Delft)

Last updated
The leaning tower Oude Kerk Delft 2.jpg
The leaning tower
Interior of the church Delft - Oude Kerk - interieur.jpg
Interior of the church
The church from above Delft, centrum met de Oude Kerk RM11970 foto1 2014-03-09 11.21.jpg
The church from above

The Oude Kerk (Old Church), nicknamed Oude Jan ("Old John") and Scheve Jan ("Skewed John"), is a Gothic Protestant church in the old city center of Delft, the Netherlands. Its most recognizable feature is a 75-meter-high brick tower that leans about two meters from the vertical.

Gothic architecture style of architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. Originating in 12th-century France, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

The Protestant Church in the Netherlands is the largest Protestant denomination in the Netherlands, being both Reformed (Calvinist) and Lutheran.

Delft City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.



The Oude Kerk undergoing renovations in 2017. Delft Old Church (Old Kerk) Rennovation.jpg
The Oude Kerk undergoing renovations in 2017.

The Oude Kerk was founded as St. Bartholomew's Church in the year 1246, on the site of previous churches dating back up to two centuries earlier. The layout followed that of a traditional basilica, with a nave flanked by two smaller aisles.

Basilica building used as a place of Christian worship

The Latin word basilica has three distinct applications in modern English. Originally, the word was used to refer to an ancient Roman public building, where courts were held, as well as serving other official and public functions. It usually had the door at one end and a slightly raised platform and an apse at the other, where the magistrate or other officials were seated. The basilica was centrally located in every Roman town, usually adjacent to the main forum. Subsequently, the basilica was not built near a forum but adjacent to a palace and was known as a "palace basilica".

Nave main body of a church

The nave is the central part of a church, stretching from the main entrance or rear wall, to the transepts, or in a church without transepts, to the chancel. When a church contains side aisles, as in a basilica-type building, the strict definition of the term 'nave' is restricted to the central aisle. In a broader, more colloquial sense, the nave includes all areas available for the lay worshippers, including the side-aisles and transepts. Either way, the nave is distinct from the area reserved for the choir and clergy.

Aisle architectural element

An aisle is, in general (common), a space for walking with rows of seats on both sides or with rows of seats on one side and a wall on the other. Aisles can be seen in airplanes, certain types of buildings, such as churches, cathedrals, synagogues, meeting halls, parliaments and legislatures, courtrooms, theatres, and in certain types of passenger vehicles. Their floors may be flat or, as in theatres, stepped upwards from a stage.

The tower with its central spire and four corner turrets was added between 1325–50, and dominated the townscape for a century and a half until it was surpassed in height by the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). During its construction the foundations were not strong enough to support the building, and the church began to lean. As work continued, the builders tried to compensate for its lean on each layer of the tower, but to this day only the four turrets at the top are truly vertical. It is possible that the course of the adjacent canal had to be shifted slightly to make room for the tower, leaving an unstable foundation that caused the tilt.

Nieuwe Kerk (Delft) church in Delft

The Nieuwe Kerk is a Protestant church in the city of Delft in the Netherlands. The building is located on Delft Market Square (Markt), opposite to the City Hall. In 1584, William the Silent was entombed here in a mausoleum designed by Hendrick and Pieter de Keyser. Since then members of the House of Orange-Nassau have been entombed in the royal crypt. The latest are Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard in 2004. The private royal family crypt is not open to the public. The church tower, designed by Pierre Cuypers and completed in 1872, is the second highest in the Netherlands, after the Domtoren in Utrecht.

By the end of the 14th century, expansion of the side aisles to the height of the nave transformed the building into a hall church, which was rededicated to St. Hippolytus. The church again took on a typical basilican cross-section with the construction of a higher nave between about 1425 and 1440.

Hall church type of church building

A hall church is a church with nave and side aisles of approximately equal height, often united under a single immense roof. The term was first coined in the mid-19th century by the pioneering German art historian Wilhelm Lübke.

The Delft town fire of 1536 and the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation brought a premature end to an ambitious expansion project led by two members of the Keldermans family of master builders. This construction phase resulted in the flat-roofed, stone-walled northern transept arm that differs markedly in style from the older parts.

Keldermans is a family of Flemish artists, originating from the city of Mechelen in the Duchy of Brabant. The members of the family were mostly architects working in the Brabantine Gothic style. As the most important architects of their time in the Netherlands, they defined the Brabantine Gothic style, and their works can still be seen today in cities like Mechelen, Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Lier, Middelburg and Gouda. Anthonis II and Rombout II were court architects for Charles V. Laurens II, last in the line, was influenced by Renaissance architecture and marked the end of the Gothic period in this region.

Transept architectural term

A transept is a transverse part of any building, which lies across the main body of the edifice. In churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform ("cross-shaped") building within the Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architectural traditions. Each half of a transept is known as a semitransept.

The great fire, iconoclasm, weather, and the explosion of the town's gunpowder store in 1654 (see Delft Explosion ) took their toll on the church and its furnishings, necessitating much repair work over the years. During one renovation, the tower turrets were rebuilt in a more vertical alignment than the leaning body below, giving the tower as a whole a slightly kinked appearance. The current stained-glass windows were crafted by the master glazier Joep Nicolas in the mid-20th century.

Stained glass decorative window composed of pieces of coloured glass

The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works created from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant religious buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture. Modern vernacular usage has often extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic leadlight and objets d'art created from foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.


The church possesses three pipe organs, from the years 1857 (main organ), 1873 (north aisle) and 1770 (choir).

The most massive bell in the tower, cast in 1570 and called Trinitasklok or Bourdon, weighs nearly nine tonnes, and because of its strong and potentially damaging vibrations, is rung only on such special occasions as the burial of a Dutch royal family member in the nearby New Church. The massive bell is also sounded during disasters, when local air-raid sirens are sounded (but not during the monthly country-wide siren tests).


Approximately 400 people are entombed in the Oude Kerk, including the following notables:

Coordinates: 52°0′45″N4°21′19″E / 52.01250°N 4.35528°E / 52.01250; 4.35528

Related Research Articles

Westerkerk church in Amsterdam

The Westerkerk is a Reformed church within Dutch Protestant church in central Amsterdam, Netherlands. It lies in the most western part of the Grachtengordel neighborhood, next to the Jordaan, between the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht.

Grote Kerk, Haarlem Church in Haarlem, Netherlands

The Grote Kerk or St.-Bavokerk is a Reformed Protestant church and former Catholic cathedral located on the central market square in the Dutch city of Haarlem. Another Haarlem church called the Cathedral of Saint Bavo now serves as the main cathedral for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam.

Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam church in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Nieuwe Kerk is a 15th-century church in Amsterdam located on Dam Square, next to the Royal Palace. Formerly a Dutch Reformed Church parish, it now belongs to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.

Hendrik Niehoff Dutch musician

Hendrik Niehoff was a Dutch pipe organ builder, who learned with noted builder, Jan van Covelen. According to Liuwe Tamminga, Niehoff was born in Leeuwarden, the capital of Province Friesland. Following Jan van Covelen's death in 1532, Hendrik Niehoff established his shop in 's-Hertogenbosch to continue building new and upgrading organs throughout the Netherlands and in major Hanseatic cities and, thus, can be considered the most significant organbuilder in northwestern Europe in the middle third of the 16th century due both to the fabulous visual architectural quality of the cases and the exquisite sounds these instruments make for the eye and ear.

Oude Kerk, Amsterdam Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church

The Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church, founded circa 1213 and consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint. After the Reformation in 1578 it became a Calvinist church, which it remains today. It stands in De Wallen, now Amsterdam's main red-light district. The square surrounding the church is the Oudekerksplein.

Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet painter from the Northern Netherlands

Hendrick Corneliszoon van Vliet was a Dutch Golden Age painter remembered mostly for his church interiors.

St. Walfriduskerk Church in Groningen , Netherlands

St. Walfridus kerk is a church located in Bedum, Netherlands dedicated to Saint Walfridus. The church was founded ca. 1050.

Hooglandse Kerk church in Leiden

Hooglandse Kerk is a Gothic church in Leiden dating from the fifteenth century. The brick church is dedicated to St. Pancras and today serves parishioners of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.

Grote Kerk (Breda) church

The Grote Kerk or Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk is the most important monument and a landmark of Breda. The church is built in the Brabantine Gothic style. The tower of the church is 97 meters tall. The plan is in the shape of a Latin Cross.

Nieuwe Kerk (The Hague) Protestant church in The Hague, Netherlands

The Nieuwe Kerk is a church in The Hague, located across from the modern city hall on the Spui. It was built in 1649 after the Great Church had become too small. Construction was completed in 1656.


The Wilhelminakerk was a former church in Rotterdam, built at the end of 19th century as a new district church of the then independent Dutch Reformed Church. It was razed in the 1970s.

Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk (The Hague) Church in The Hague, Netherlands

Great or St. James' Church is a landmark Protestant church in The Hague, Netherlands. The building is located on the Torenstraat, named for its high tower. Together with the Binnenhof, it is one of the oldest buildings in The Hague. Members of the House of Orange-Nassau have been baptised and married there. The latest are Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and his daughter Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange.

Marekerk Church in Leiden, Netherlands

The Marekerk is a Protestant church in Leiden, located at the Lange Mare and the Oude Vest canal. The church can be easily seen from the Oude Vest and the Burcht van Leiden by its round dome.

Nieuwe Kerk (Haarlem) church in Haarlem

The Nieuwe Kerk is a historical Protestant Reformed church dating from the 17th century on the Nieuwe Kerksplein in Haarlem, Netherlands.

Walloon Church, Amsterdam

The Walloon Church is a Protestant church building in Amsterdam, along the southern stretch of Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. The building dates to the late 15th century and has been in use as Walloon church since 1586. Every Sunday at 11 a.m. church services are held here in French. The church is also used for concerts and music recordings. It is known for its excellent acoustics. The building has held rijksmonument status since 1970.

St James the Great Church Church in Vlissingen, Netherlands

Saint James the Great Church is a large Protestant church in the city of Flushing, Netherlands. The building is on the Old Market ; around are the streets called Branderijstraat and Lepelstraat. The original Roman Catholic church of the city, it has belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church since 1572, which became the Protestant Church in the Netherlands in 2004.

Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Písek) church in Písek District of South Bohemian region

The Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a basilica with a nave and two aisles. It is located in the historical centre in Písek, Czech Republic. The church tower on the south side of the western facade has become a symbol of the town, it is also the highest building in Písek.

Saint Hippolytus Chapel, Delft chapel in Delft

The Saint Hippolytus Chapel is a chapel in the old city of Delft. It is one of the oldest buildings in Delft, and since 1967 it has been designated the Rijksmonument.