The Romans invade Amsterdam: Rome an exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk
The Romans never made it to Amsterdam. Simply, Amsterdam did not exist as a settlement of notable size. The Romans made their defensive line along the Rhine River. Utrecht was the closet they got, about 25 miles south of Amsterdam.
This has now changed with the exhibition: Rome: Emperor Constantine's Dream at Amsterdam's Nieuwe Kerk. Constantine is an interesting choice for a Roman exhibition in Amsterdam's "new" church. Constantine was the first Christian Emperor to rule Rome - sort of as he was only baptized on his deathbed. Under his rule Christianity went from a secret sect whose followers were thrown to the lions to a legitimate religion free from oppression
The exhibition presents Constantine as a kind christian-esque ruler. The Good Shepard statue from the Vatican's Pro Cristiano Museum is a perfect example. A young Shepard with a helpless sheep upon his shoulders. The exhibition portray's the period, late 3rd century to early 4th century, as a time of religious tolerance with other artifacts representing a diversity of beliefs. A relativist state with Constantine as its ruler.
As a visitor to Amsterdam you can learn about Roman history and the Dutch Reformation in one building.
The direction of the exhibition and the location of the Nieuwe Kerk was not lost on the visitor. The Nieuwe Kerk is a church where all the Kings and Queens of the Netherlands are blessed at the beginning of their reign King or Queen. The Netherlands has a relatively new King.
Yet the church's position on Dam Square presents the building as of lesser importance than the former City Hall now Royal Palace. The Nieuwe Kerk is rarely used these days for religious practice as the Royal Palace seldom has regal occupants.
The Netherlands has one of the largest agnostic populations in Europe. Approximately 30% depending on which statistics you view. Amsterdam, as its capital. Is considered one of the most diverse city's in the world for its population.
The Dutch Reformed Church of which the new King of the Netherlands is a member once held the position of 'privileged' religion of the state. This organisation has lost 60% or its congregation since 1950.
Here we have an extremely diverse city, Amsterdam. In a country where an anti-immigrant and anti-Islam political party is most popular (polls September 2015). Showing an exhibition of a Roman Emperor most believe to be Christian but wasn't, portrayed as a symbol of religious diversity. This in a church not used as a church, in a country that is not religious.
You wonder why people love Amsterdam?
The exhibition, Rome: Emperor Constantine's Dream runs until 7 February 2016. For more details visit the Nieuwe Kerk website.
When in Amsterdam...enjoy!