Westertoren is Open Again!

The Westertoren has been enveloped in scaffolding for months. The stretch of Prinsengracht in front of the tower was blocked off, and there were men and lots of equipment all over the place. A couple of years ago the Westerkerk was similarly enclosed for renovation, and when revealed was lovely clean bricks and cream frames around the windows.

In the last couple of weeks the tower has been revealed. Astonishingly it’s as dirty as before and is now in stark contrast to the adjacent church. I couldn’t work out what all the work had been for.

A colleague explained that he’d received an invitation to today’s opening ceremony, and in the invitation it explained that the tower had been restored to its historically authentic colours. I still don’t understand what took so long – since only relatively small parts of the tower have painted surfaces – and I don’t understand why they couldn’t clean the stones while they were up there.

My colleague suspects it’s because the state owns the tower, but the parish owns the church, and the state didn’t want to pay.

Facts about the Westertoren (from the Monument website, translation = mine, there are photos of the tower before restoration and the view, but the site is in Dutch)

The Westertoren (completed in 1638) is 85 meters tall and is the highest tower in the city. The tower is extremely high in proportion to the adjacent Westerkerk. The tower was also more than a church tower. It was not built by the church but by the city government. This was true of all the 17th century towers, the towers were not just clocks for the city, but also served as outlook posts (for the firewatch).

It wasn’t possible to build the tower completely in stone, and set it in the soft soil of Amsterdam. The lowest piece if from brick, the first level above that is from sandstone, and the upper two levels are made of wood, disguised with an outer layer of lead – painted grey.

clock photo is taken of a photo on

display at the Westerkerk


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