at a sad big square just outside the centre, in a neighbourhood
that fell victim to the destructive ambitions of local politicians
decades ago, is the Nieuwkerk ('New Church'), the first church
in the Netherlands built specifically for protestant services.
But since it was built using parts of a catholic predecessor,
the church of Willemstad (NB) gets the honour of being the first church that was completely
built for the protestants, even though work on that church didn't
start before 1597, and the Nieuwkerk is merely regarded a conversion,
albeit a very radical one.
The former catholic church that stood on this location was built
after ca. 1420. It was consecrated St. Nikolaas and replaced
an earlier church from 1175. This was probably a three-aisled
cruciform church. In 1568 it was destroyed by fire. Of this church
only the two choirs have been saved. These are slightly different,
and the northern one is probably the oldest. In 1572, when Dordrecht
officially became a protestant city, the remains of the old church
were adapted for use as a protestant church. In 1589 and the
following years a new polygonal western part with portal was
built. This was built from brick with natural stone layers in
between, in a style that was still in essence Gothic. In 1592
the church was finished. It had become a centralized church,
the first of many such protestant churches that were build in
the next four centuries. An old drawing shows the church with
a tower at the front, at the location of the portal. Whether
this tower was ever build or planned, or if the maker of the
drawing allowed himself some artistic license is unknown. In
ca. 1840 a tower in neo-Classical
style was added, largely made out of wood and probably designed
by town architect G.N. Itz.
Despite its importance, the future of the church was uncertain
for a long time. It was abandoned in the 1960's, and has had
several profane uses since. First it was the workshop of a restorer.
Later it was turned into houses and a supermarket. The last few
years it has accommodated two shops, one selling kitchens, the
other all other cooking attributes.