St. Nicholas is Amsterdam’s patron saint. The church that bears his name is across from Amsterdam Central Station.
The Zuiderkerk was used for church services until 1929. During the final (1944-1945) winter of World War II, known as the hongerwinter (“winter of hunger”) in the Netherlands because food was so scarce, the church was in use as a temporary morgue because people were dying faster than they could be buried. The church was closed in 1970 because it was at the point of collapse. In the years 1976-1979, the church underwent renovation, and since 1988 it serves as a municipal information centre, with regularly changing exhibitions as well as a permanent exhibition which features a scale model of Amsterdam as it is envisioned in 2020.
Since June 2006, the church also houses the “Wall of Fame”, an homage to Dutch celebrities who have made a positive contribution to society, such as charitable work. The honourees include Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen, renowned former soccer player Johan Cruijff and four-time Olympic swimming champion Inge de Bruijn.
The church is open to visitors Monday through Saturday. The tower, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area, is open to visitors Tuesdays through Sundays during the summer months. The carillon plays on Sundays between 4pm and 5pm.