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Our Lord in the Attic is one of the oldest and most remarkable museums in Amsterdam. Behind the characteristic facade of the house by the canal lies a largely original 17th-century home and a complete hidden church. This hidden church 'in the attic' was built during the Reformation, when Catholics were forbidden to hold public services.
The history of Our Lord in the Attic begins in 1661. That is when the wealthy merchant Jan Hartman (1619-1668) bought a prestigious property on Oudezijds Voorburgwal, known popularly as Velvet Burgwal. The property, today's museum, comprises a house on the canal and two rear houses, with the third floor of the front house forming a single extended attic with the top floors of the two back houses. The new owner decided to start rebuilding immediately. On the ground floor and basement Jan Hartman built a shop and storage room. On the first floor he added a lavish reception room to show off his status and receive guests. This salon is among the best preserved living rooms of the Dutch Golden Age, a copy of which can be seen in Japan.
Hartman was Catholic, and his son was training for the priesthood. In Protestant Amsterdam Catholics were prevented from openly practising their religion. Within years of the Alteration (the transfer of power in Amsterdam to Protestants in 1578) an official prohibition on the celebration of the Catholic mass was issued. Hartman therefore decided to convert the top three floors of his house into a secret Catholic church. For over two hundred years Hartman's attic served as a parish church for Catholics in the city center. Of course the Protestant authorities knew about the hidden church, but they turned a blind eye. Amsterdam's policy was to tolerate the diversity of faiths that flourished in the city.
In 1739 the priest Ludovicus Reiniers bought the house. He lived in the foremost house and improved access to the church by inserting a new staircase in the middle house. It was probably during the rebuilding of the front facade in the 19th century that the statue of a stag that surmounted it disappeared. Instead of the Hart ('Stag'), the church now became known as 'Our Lord in the Attic'.
When the large St Nicolas's church opposite Central Station was dedicated in 1887, Our Lord in the Attic was superseded as the local parish church. In that same year a group of Catholics in Amsterdam bought the property on the corner of Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Heintje Hoekssteeg, thus saving it from demolition. A year later, on 28 April 1888, Our Lord in the Attic was opened to the public on weekdays. After the Rijksmuseum it is the city's oldest museum.
The museum is located at the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40
Things to bring
No cancellation possible
Monday to Saturday: 10:00-17:00
Sundays & public holidays: 13:00-17:00
The museum is closed on 1 January and Kingsday