WEST TOWER – HISTORY
The Westertoren or ‘West tower’ (completed 1638) is the highest church tower in Amsterdam with a height of 85 meters (87 meters including the rooster). It is about 85 centimetres off the lead and is one of the most famous sights in the capital. The Westertoren is by far the most sung and described church tower of Amsterdam, nicknamed ‘de Lange Jan’, ‘de Ouwe Wester’ or ‘de Parel van de Jordaan’. The tower was designed by city architect Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621). De Keyser died a year after construction began. The church and the tower were then completed under the leadership of his son, city stonemason and master builder Pieter de keyser and city mason Cornelis Dankersz de Rij.
In the 17th century Amsterdam again underwent a considerable expansion of its territory. Around 1613, the construction of the famous ring of canals Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht (the first part of this to the Leidsegracht; after 1655 it continued to the Amstel) was started. This expansion plan was designed by the city carpenter Hendrick Jacobsz Staets and the surveyor Lucas Jansz. Sinck. The rich merchants in particular settled here. To the west of the Prinsengracht came the so-called ‘New Work’: the present Jordaan. In this district mainly workmen and small traders found shelter. Of course churches were also needed in these new city districts. The Noorderkerk was first built on the Noordermarkt, built in 1620-1623. But already in 1615 plans were made for a much larger church in the ring of canals: the present Westerkerk (1620-1631). At the same time as the church was built, the tower on the west side of the church was built. Hendrick de Keyser had originally intended to crown the tower with a twelve-sided and an octagonal section above it, but ten years after his death his design was radically changed at the express wish of the city council; the tower was now crowned with a crowning of exclusively square sections. The imperial crown from the original design was maintained.
Bells (bells) and carillon (carillon)
The Westertoren has 3 bells, 2 bells and 50 carillon bells.
The First bell (middle) weighs 3137 kilograms, has a diameter of 164 centimetres and a ring B. The bell was cast in 1686 by Claude frèmy.
The Second bell (north side) weighs 1495 kilograms, has a centreline of 131 centimeters and a ring Dis. The bell was cast in 1658 by Francois Hemony.
The Third bell (south side) weighs 800 kilograms, has a diameter of 109 centimetres and a stroke tone F-sharp, and was also cast in 1658 by Francois Hemony.
Amsterdam’s largest striking clock (whole hour clock with the F beep) was cast in 1636 by Assuerus Koster and weighs 7509 kg. The second, also cast by Assuerus Koster in 1636 (half-hour clock with the A beep) weighs 3700 kilograms and hangs at the very top, just below the imperial crown.
The carillon consists of 50 bells (now with a total weight of 10215 kilograms), originally cast in 1658 by Francois Hemony and of which 24 Hemony bells still exist today, which were restored and cleaned in 1959 by the bell-foundry Firma Eijsbouts in Asten. A number of smaller bells have been renewed. The carillon is played every Tuesday from 12:00 to 13:00 by carillonneur Boudewijn Zwart.
The imperial crown
On top of the Westertoren is the imperial crown designed by Hendrick de Keyzer after the example of the crown of Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612). In 1489 Maximilian I granted the city of Amsterdam the right to carry the imperial crown above her coat of arms. From 1906 to 2006 yellow in color and during the restoration 2006-2007 restoration architect Walter Kramer (1937-2010) brought the crown back to its original color blue.
In the natural stone part of the tower, above the coat of arms of Amsterdam is mentioned on four sides: Anno 1637 in Latin numerals.
cb stands for M or 1000
b stands for D or 500
C stands for C or 100
X stands for X or 10
V stands for V or 5
I stands for I or 1