POINTS OF INTEREST
Built between 1620 and 1631 by Hendrick de Keyser, the Dutch Renaissance–style Westerkerk was the largest Protestant church in the world until St. Paul's Cathedral in London was built in 1675. The Westerkerk's 85-meter-tall tower, still the tallest in the city, is topped by a gaudy copy of the crown of the Habsburg emperor Maximilian I, who gave Amsterdam the right to use his royal insignia in 1489 in gratitude for support given to the Austro-Burgundian princes.
The church is renowned for its organ and carillon (there are regular concerts). The carillon is played every Tuesday between noon and 1 by a real person (a carillonneur) but is automated at other times with different songs tinkling out on the quarter hour, day and night. Anne Frank described the tunes in her diary. Rembrandt, who lived on Rozengracht during his poverty-stricken last years, and his son, Titus, are buried (somewhere) here. Rembrandt's posthumous reputation inspired some very surreal television three centuries later, when a body was unearthed that was mistakenly thought to be his: while exposed to the glare of the news cameras, the skull turned to dust. The Westertoren (Westerkerk Tower) is a fun climb from April to the end of October (www.westertorenamsterdam.nl).