Amsterdam is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Europe. It is also a self-proclaimed experiment in freedom, which has led to many of the city’s historic buildings and districts housing sex shops and coffeeshops selling marijuana.
Oude Kerk (Old Church) is the oldest church in Amsterdam, constructed in 1306. Its towering arches and floor constructed of gravestones makes it a unique and sacred site in the city. But as is so common in Amsterdam, the church has become a place where the sacred and the profane meet.
Situated on Old Church Square, the church now shares real estate with the a heavily trafficked zone of De Wallen, or the Red Light District. Although some raised eyebrows at the collision of the two worlds, the city seems to have embraced the dichotomy.
Proudly standing in front of the church doors, a bronze statue entitled “Belle” was erected in 2007 as a monument to the sex workers of the world. Old Church Square also boasts a metal relief in the cobblestones of a hand caressing a woman’s breast, another reference to Amsterdam’s lively participation in the world’s oldest profession.