Originally built in 1306 as a wooden chapel, and constantly renovated and extended between 1330 and 1571, the Oude Kerk is the city's oldest and most interesting church. One can only imagine the Sunday Mass chaos during its heyday of the mid 1500s when it had 38 altars each with its own guild-sponsored priest. Its original furnishings were removed by iconoclasts during the Reformation, but the church has retained its wooden roof, which was painted in the 15th century with figurative images.
Keep your eyes peeled for the mixed Gothic and Renaissance façade above the northern portal, and the stained-glass windows, parts of which date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Rembrandt's wife Saskia, who died in 1642, is buried here. The inscription over the bridal chamber, which translates as 'Marry in haste, mourn at leisure', is in keeping with the church's location in the heart of the Red Light District, though this is more by accident than design.
If you want to be semi-shocked, check out the carvings in the choir benches of men evacuating their bowels - apparently they tell a moralistic tale. The church is now as much of an exhibition centre as anything else, with shows covering everything from modern art installations to the annual World Press Photo Exhibition.