Bethaniënklooster: a monastery with jazz

blog_Bethanienklooster_smallJust imagine walking around in a building that was built in the 1450s… How inspiring would that be? Sometimes it’s hard to get your brain around the fact you can actually visit a place that old in Amsterdam. And not merely visit, you can enjoy a classical concert there, or some jazz!

Take a look at the oldest map of the city, dated 1545, and there it is, the ‘Sinte Maria Magdalena van Bethaniën’ monastery. It’s still here.

A wee bit of history: in the years 1705 – 1914, the Bethaniënklooster (klooster is Dutch for monastery) was used as a schuilkerk, a clandestine church. According to Wikipedia, “the church was nicknamed De Ooievaar (“The Stork”) after the gable stone, depicting a stork”. Makes sense.

Jump forward. The 1980s. The building is in desperate need of some work. Thanks to one Geurt Brinkgreve, the building is being restored. He decided the monastery would be a great location for students of the (now named) Conservatory of Amsterdam. In the attic he created ten rooms for students of the Conservatory. The middle part, originally the dining hall, plus the nuns’ sleeping area, were repurposed into a concert hall. Here, mostly classical concerts are being held. For example, this Sunday, the New Year’s Concert ‘3 x Bach = 2014’. Also, as of 2012, you can visit a jazz club in the cellar, which still has its 15th century cross vaults.

Curious to know what this Sunday’s music is like? This is what 3 x Bach’ sounded like in 2012:

3 x Bach = 2012, by Bach Reflections, Bethaniënklooster, Amsterdam

As you could guess, the building is right in the old center of Amsterdam, in the Red Light District, just off the Nieuwmarkt square. An alley too small for Google Cars:

View Larger Map

If you’d like to experience the Bethaniënklooster, definitely go visit, or stroll past the building. It’s in an area of the city you wouldn’t want to miss anyway: very lively, many small streets, yet just as safe as the main shopping street.


WHY It’s amazing to walk around in a building, knowing it was built in the 1450s. Plus: they have chamber music and jazz.
WHY NOW New Year’s Concert ’3 x Bach = 2014′. Ticket: € 15. Ticket + CD ‘To B or not to B’ by Bach Reflections: € 20.
WHEN January 3, 2014, 3pm.
WHAT A 1450s monastery turned concert hall, jazz club and music students’ housing.
WHERE Barndesteeg 6, Amsterdam (see map above).
WWW Facebook * YouTube * Twitter * Website

Image © Unknown (please contact us if it’s yours/not OK to use). Text © Amsterdam Culture/Sheila Schenkel

Great Amsterdam song and design

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