The Only Basilica in Amsterdam: St. Nicholas Basilica

Amsterdam's Church of St Nicholas as seen from the docks in front of the NEMO Science Museum at the Eastern Docks.
joiseyshowaa / Flickr /CC BY 2.0

Head a few steps south of Amsterdam Central Station, and there it is: just a few hundred meters to the left, St. Nicholas Basilica (Basiliek van de H. Nicolaas) is one of the first city landmarks most visitors spot. So it's mystifying that this majestic church, which towers over its street, is so frequently overlooked. Indeed, its popularity is dwarfed by that of the other historic churches in Amsterdam.

Architect Adrianus Bleijs built the cruciform church between 1884 and 1887, at a time when neo-Gothic architecture was favored for Catholic churches. (Visitors need only look behind them - at P.J.H. Cuyper's Central Station, completed in 1889 - for an example of the typical neo-Gothic architecture of the day.) At 58 meters tall, the rear dome is one of the most salient features of the church, a harmony of neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance elements. Two shorter towers rise from either side of the church's entrance.

In 2012, 125 years after it was consecrated, the church was promoted to a basilica.

Interior of St. Nicholas Basilica

The art in the church interior shows off a variety of artists and media. One such artist is the Flemish sculptor Perre van den Bossche, whose Classicism- and Baroque-inspired sculpture adorn the altars and pulpit of the church; the studio he founded is most famous for the Gouden Koets, the chariot that transports the Dutch queen to her yearly address of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives on Prince's Day.

The walls of the church feature the life's work of Dutch painter Jan Dunselman, who was most famous for his Stations of the Cross; the Sint Nicolaaskerk contains an example of Dunselman's Stations as part of the work he contributed to the church. His illustration of the Eucharistic Miracle of Amsterdam appears in the left transept arm of the church.

Sint Nicolaaskerk (St. Nicholas Church) Visitor Information

Prins Hendrikkade 73
1012 AD Amsterdam

  • Free admission.
  • Directions: St. Nicholas Basilica is directly across the street from Amsterdam Central Station. From the south side of the station, head left on Prins Hendrikkade; the church is on the opposite side of the street.