I have an insatiable thirst for new ways to experience Amsterdam, my adopted home. While browsing Instagram, I saw glimpses of a shining white platform atop the Oude Kerk in the red light district, offering city views I’d never seen before. I knew I had to go and see it for myself.
“The Garden Which is the Nearest to God” is a temporary installation by Japanese artist Taturo Aztu, who “…is internationally renowned for his temporary art projects which transform our experiences of monuments, statues and architecture.
Radically altering our perceptions, his installations provide public and intimate access to elements within our urban environment.”
The installation itself is a roof terrace centered around the weather vane and bell tower of the Oude Kerk Amsterdam, for this summer only.
The Oude Kerk (Old Church) is the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded as a tiny wooden chapel in the 13th century. Generations of prominent city residents were buried here, including Rembrandt’s wife and muse Saska van Uylenburgh. It’s undergone three massive restorations since the 1950s.
The architectural, organizational and logistical complexity of putting such an large scale project on such a historic monument boggles my mind. I have to applaud the ambition—and execution—of it.
What is truly special about Aztu’s “Garden” are the amazing city views. There aren’t many tall buildings in Amsterdam, and especially not in the oldest part of the city known as De Wallen. Most visitors know this as the notorious Red Light District.
I went with my friend Angel on a clear, bright sunny day. We could see all the way across the historic city center (yes, it really is that small!) to Central Station and to A’Dam Toren across the river in Amsterdam Noord (both on the upper left of the photo).
For a part of the city with mostly four-story buildings, this is pretty damn cool!
I loved looking out on the busy Oudezijds Voorburgwal (try saying that 10 times fast!), the main artery of the Red Light District.
It’s also a rare treat to see the characteristic gables that crown Amsterdam’s canal houses practically at eye level. A feast of details for those who love that kind of thing, as I do.
I love a good wall to take portraits against, and the best one in Amsterdam right now is this one on top of the Oude Kerk. Thank you Taturo Aztu!
With sunshine reflected off its pristine whiteness, it creates the best natural lighting ever.
While waiting for the clock to strike three, we spent the time chatting, taking pictures and sunbathing. It feels pretty special to be this close to the oldest clock tower in the city when it chimes its hourly tune.
“The Garden Which is the Nearest to God” by Taturo Aztu is at the Oude Kerk Amsterdam until the 6th of September 2015. Book tickets online at the Oude Kerk website.