St. Lauren’s Church, or The Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, is the primary cathedral of Rotterdam, and the only remaining building of medieval times in the city. The late-Gothic structure was built between 1449 and 1525, originally consecrated as a Catholic cathedral before being converted to a Protestant place of worship following the Reformation in 1572. Much of the ornate decoration from the interior was removed at this time.
For a time, from 1619 to 1642, the church was topped with a wooden spire designed by architect Hendrick de Keyser, but this was demolished due to rot. The next idea was to top the tower with a stone pinnacle, but this caused the tower to tilt, requiring new piles to be added under the foundation. Much of the remaining interior decoration was removed during the Batavian Revolution of 1795.
Sint-Laurenskerk was heavily damaged in the German bombing of May 14, 1940, the images of which still symbolize the hardship the city endured during this period. After the bombing, there was controversy over whether to keep or demolish the church, and in the end, a restoration was agreed upon.
One of the main attractions of the Sint-Laurenskerk is the Carillon of bells, which were originally installed in 1661 as a set of 36 designed by F. Hemony. More were later added during the post-war renovation, and there are now 49.
The Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 5pm. The church is closed on Sunday and Monday except for church services. Admission is €1 for adults, with children up to age 12 free. Admission for the exhibit is €5 for adults, €3.50 for children 13-18, and free for children to 12 years. You can access the museum via Tram 21 (Blaak stop) or Metro Beurs or Blaak.