The Noorderkerk ('northern church') was built between 1620–1623 to serve the rapidly growing population of the new Jordaan neighbourhood. The Jordaan already had a church, the Westerkerk, but the city government decided that a second church should be built to serve the northern part of the neighbourhood. The Noorderkerk became the church for the common people, while the Westerkerk was used mainly by the middle and upper classes.
The architect was Hendrick de Keyser, who also designed the Zuiderkerk and Westerkerk, among others. After de Keyser's death in 1621, his son Pieter de Keyser took over and oversaw the completion.
While the Zuiderkerk and Westerkerk have a more traditional basilica design, the Noorderkerk has a symmetrical, cross-shaped layout, reflecting the ideals of the Renaissance and protestantism. De Keyser's unique design combines an octagonal floor plan with a structure shaped like a Greek cross, with four arms of equal length. Annex buildings occupy each corner of the cross, and a small tower sits in the centre of the cross. Large Tuscan pillars dominate the church interior. The bell tower was built in 1621 by J. Meurs.
The church is still used for Dutch Reformed Church services and is also used regularly for classical music concerts.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.