The Noorderkerk (1620) is not the first consecrated protestant church to be built in the Netherlands -- that honour belongs to a church in Willemstad - but it is the first protestant church to be built in the shape of a Greek Cross, with a central pulpit and as few pillars as possible, allowing the entire congretation a good view and no distorting echo to destroy "the word".
The church was built quickly, with the first stone laid on June 15th 1620 and the first service being held at Easter 1623. Credited to Hendrick de Keyser, the city master sculptor and stone cutter, (as is the Zuiderkerk and Westerkerk), it is likely that de Keyser cooperated on the building with his colleagues the master mason Danckerts and carpenter Staets.
The church did not get an organ until 1849. The graveyard originally placed next to the church wasclosed and moved to the city wall in 1655. Until 1865 burials took place inside the church, with unfortunate side effects: some of the heavy tombstones are resting on six layers of coffins and with such an unstable base, they tend to sink and break. Keeping the tombstones level with sand is one of the ongoing restoration works taking place at the church.
In 1849-1874 the church underwent major restoration and a second was begun in 1993. In between little was done, apart from in 1979 when lightening hit the tower, causing the clock to stop at seven minutes past midnight.
Placed in a working class area like the Jordaan, the church has had its ups and downs and was closed for services between 1934 and 1941, although it is once again open for business on Sundays. Yet the church reflects its working class congregation. Just outside the main entrance is a sculpture to remember the Jordaanoproer (Jordan riot) of 1934 when social security payments were reduced by 10 percent. Six people were killed in the ensuing street battles.
A plaque on the wall next to the door commemorates the strike of February 1941, called to protest against the deportation of the Jews. A memorial service is held in the church on May 5 every year.