The Dutch government has a history of tolerance. Take a few steps from Centraal Station and smell the marijuana smoke and take a peek at the ladies in the window boxes and the word “tolerance” does not seem, I don’t know, strong enough. So when anti-Catholic sentiment was all the rage in Europe, what did the tolerant Dutch do? Rather than ban Catholicism and persecute its followers, the government had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and pushed it underground. Or in this case, into the attic.
Our Lord in the Attic is a clandestine church built on the top floors of three canal houses in central Amsterdam near the Red Light District. From the outside, nothing is amiss; the exteriors of the canal houses blend in perfectly with their neighbors. Once you are inside and upstairs, it is hard to believe the transformation. The church looks like a church. This is not card tables in the den – there is seating for 150. There are pews, a very ornate altar, a balcony and choir. The tour leads you through the church and the audioguide fills you in on the details of its construction, from the social climate that pushed Catholicism into hiding to the actual construction that lasted from 1661 to 1663. Plan to spend about an hour here, and when you are done and on the street, look up and notice one more time the lack of any indication that this is a place of worship.
The Museum is open from 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and 1pm to 5pm on Sunday. Cost of admission is 8 euro.
You have been to country chapels, remote monasteries and grand cathedrals, but you have never been to a church quite like this.