De Oude Kerk (The Old Church), Amsterdam

First, here’s some info about the church, from their website:

The Old Church

The Old Church is in the heart of Amsterdam right on the ramparts. It is the oldest building in the city and was founded by fishermen on the river Amstel. Around 1300 there was erected a stone church, dedicated to St. Nicholas. This church would become the imposing medieval monument that exists today.

The Old Church not only serves as a place of worship but also as a concert hall, wedding venue and exhibition and reception area. It is the living room of Amsterdam. That’s always been the case: Fishermen repaired their nets here, played the organ, and Sweelinck and Rembrandt went here to marry. Generations of Amsterdam residents, including the naval hero Van Heemskerck, are buried in this European monument.

De Oude Kerk interior

De Oude Kerk interior

Our experience in May 2013

We were walking, of course, as we walked so much in Amsterdam (afraid of getting in a bike crash) that I ended up with tendinitis in my hip at the end. On this sightseeing adventure, I was in front, picking my way around some construction work being done on the paving stones outside the church, and behind me, my husband was being propositioned by a “lady of the night.” Does that moniker still apply during the day? Well, you know what I mean. Now, this is a man who takes pretty much everything in stride, but he was startled enough to catch up and tell me what happened. His eyes were pretty huge! The lady in question managed to do this without me catching on. Pretty clever.

The church is right next to the red light district, we discovered.

The World Press Photo laureates from Russia and the Soviet Union were on display. These photos were fascinating and some of them were disturbing, as photojournalism can and should be, bringing to light experiences of people around the world, both positive and negative.

The church itself is amazing. You look at these tombstones on the floor and know that beneath them are people who lived in Amsterdam hundreds of years ago. And you think about their lives.

the tombstone from 1813

The tombstone from 1613

tombstone 1621

Tombstone from 1621, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam

That was a lot of death, so here are some thrilling photos of life at its best from the Photo Laureates, Wei Zheng and Yongzhi Chu:

Wei Zheng, China, 3rd Prize Sports Action Singles, A member of the Australian synchronized swimming team competes at the Olympic Games in London, on  10 August.

Wei Zheng, China, 3rd Prize Sports Action Singles, A member of the Australian synchronized swimming team competes at the Olympic Games in London, on 10 August.

Gymnasts

Yongzhi Chu, China, 2nd Prize Sports Action Singles, Young gymnasts warm up at a juvenile sports school in Jiaxing, Zhejiang, China.

Looking at these photojournalism masterpieces reminds me of Leanne Cole’s post yesterday in which she discusses art and photography. I highly recommend it: What is Art?

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