The 51 beautiful churches owned by the Old Frisian Churches Foundation can be visited all year round. If the door is locked, the key can be picked up from a keyholder.
Each church used to have a sign on it giving the address of where they key could be picked up. In these days of internet, the keyholder addresses are easy to find on our website. Under the menu ‘Churches, click on the church you want to visit and you’ll see, on the left-hand side of the page, useful information including the keyholder’s address. For some churches, the address is of the organisation renting the church, as is the case in Allingawier, Bears, Hegebeintum, Raard (D), Swichum and Sint-Jacobiparochie.
If you want to be sure you can visit the church of your choice, call the phone number listed with the keyholder’s address or the contact person. This will help avoid any disappointment. If you would like to hire the church, you will need to call or write to the contact person not the keyholder.
If you would like to have all the keyholder addresses in a single document, click here. Then you can put together your own route along the churches.
The 51 churches owned by the Foundation are mainly managed by volunteers, our local committees. These committees have between three and five members, so, clearly, the churches cannot be permanently open and supervised by the volunteers. This is why visitors are asked to pick up the key from the church’s keyholder when they want to visit.
Some churches are however open all year round, such as in Boksum, Jorwert and Hantumhuizen. Volunteers in these villages unlock the doors in the morning and close them again at the end of the afternoon. Usually, these are churches where the village residents have a reasonable view of the church from their homes. In other villages, this is unfortunately not possible due to the risk of vandalism or theft. Sometimes a village is simply too small and daily opening would be too much of a burden.
A few of our churches are rented out. The visiting times for these churches can be found on the website of the organisation renting the church. The church in Hegebeintum is open throughout most of the year through De Terp visitors’ centre, as is the Church of Mary in Bears through Uniastate. The pilgrims’ information centre run by the Dutch Association of Saint James in the entrance hall of The Great Church in Sint Jacobiparochie is open every second and fourth Saturday of the month.
Church trail (Tsjerkepaad)
In the summer months, Frisian church enthusiasts can enjoy our churches to their heart’s content during the Tsjerkepaad season. Over a period of ten weeks, 250 (of the 780) Frisian churches are open every Saturday afternoon from 1pm to 5pm. The Tsjerkepaad foundation publishes an annual guide of all the participating churches, and a leaflet covering all the summer’s activities. This leaflet is produced in collaboration with the Old Frisian Churches Foundation and is available through hotels, campsites and museums. A number of walking and cycling trails are published on the Tsjerkepaad website.
No other province in the Netherlands has so many churches open simultaneously in the summer months. The Tsjerkepaad foundation cannot be praised enough for this initiative and it reflects the friendly, hospitable nature the Frisian church communities are keen to display. The volunteers manning the churches on Saturday afternoons do so from a passion for the church as part of our heritage and often with a spiritual incentive of being open to those showing interest.