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OLD CHURCH TOWER – HISTORY

Old church tower
The Oudekerkstoren is the oldest church tower in Amsterdam, 67 meters high with a stone base of 36 meters and an octagonal wooden spire of 31 meters (1564-1566) designed by Joost Jansz Bilhamer (1541-1590).

Renovations
Around 1280 there was a small chapel on this spot. In about 1300 this was replaced by a new stone church with a modest tower. From 1562-1566 the Oudekerkstoren underwent an important renovation. The walls of the old tower fuselage were considerably heavier (down to 3 meters thick). The old spire was demolished and the tower was raised by 1 section. Between 1564-1566 a new spire was built, in an early Renaissance style with Gothic elements, which still adorns the present city centre of Amsterdam. Due to severe subsidence, the Oudekerkstoren was provided with extra foundations and changes between 1738-1740. The outside of the tower fuselage was given a completely new brick cladding. The original medieval masonry is therefore only visible inside the tower. Around 1954 the stone substructure of the tower was thoroughly restored. For the 18th century bricks outside cladding, stones from the former Island Church (1736) on the Prinseneiland were used. The spire and carillon were restored between 1962-1965.

What this oldest tower in Amsterdam looked like before the major renovation of 1562-1566 can be seen in the lottery print from 1555 (see picture).

Bells (bells) and carillon (carillon)
The Oudekerkstoren has 4 bells and 47 carillon bells.

Commissioned by the city council of Amsterdam, in 1658 the Oudekerkstoren received a carillon of 35 bells made by bell-founder Francois Hemony and 4 bells, of which today only the largest and the smallest are still Francois hemony.

First bells, the heaviest in Amsterdam, weighing 3700 kilograms, with a diameter of 175 centimetres, percussion b-flat, cast in 1659 by Francois Hemony. Since 1982 called ‘Freedom’.
Second timepiece, weighing 1700 kilograms, striking tone d, with a diameter of 140 cm, cast in 1689 by Claude Fremy.  Since Easter 1882 it bears the name: ‘Love’.
Third bell, with a weight of 875 kilograms, a diameter of 117 centimeters, striking tone F, cast in 1771. The bell was cast by Pieter Seest. Since Easter 1982 it bears the name: ‘Hope’.
Fourth ringing bell, weighing 450 kilograms, a diameter of 87 centimetres, a beating tone B-flat. The bell was cast in 1659 by Francois Hemony. Since Easter 1982 it bears the name: ‘Faith’.
The carillon currently consists of 47 bells, of which 35 bells Francois Hemony and 12 bells are made by bell-founder Eijsbouts.