Jopenkerk in Haarlem turned into the Temple of Beer (Photo: Luca Coppola)

Jopenkerk in Haarlem turned into the Temple of Beer

The most amazing thing in Holland is the attitude to consider that nothing is useless.. and that everything can produce income taking on a new value in the function of a new activity. This concerns particularly the new destinations of old churches. Haarlem represents the attractive key example of a historical monument regeneration policy (for more details please see the full article the sacred and the profane posted on my blog

Returning to Haarlem we have several cases: church transformed into a dental practice, or transformed into civilian homes / apartments or used to house archives, like the North Holland Archives inside the Janskerk. The Grote Kerk in Bakenessergracht has become a branch of the archive itself in 2013. The Grote/St. Bavo Church at the Grote Markt often becomes a book market. Around the church, close to the shops, the Vishal has been renovated as an exposition space for exhibitions and events.

The most remarkable example of this attitude, however, remains the Jopenkerk, an ancient church, located in the Raaks which has transformed into “The Temple of Beer”.

A brief history will help us to learn more about the reasons which have determined the development of this initiative.

From the Middle Ages Haarlem was a city with a rich beer history. Between 1620 and 1640 there were about 52 Haarlem breweries. But in 1916 the last brewery, Het Scheepje, on the Houtmarkt closed its doors. The industrialisation of brewing at the end of the 19th century snuffed out the tradition. Yet not everything had been lost. In fact, in 1995, the year of the celebrations of the city’s 750th anniversary, a group of enthusiastic Haarlemmers got inspired by the loss of all the historic breweries. They took up the challenge of bringing back Haarlems Jopenbier onto the market, with Hoppenbier’s recipe, which dates from the year 1501. The name Jopen comes from the 112-litre wooden barrels wherein the beer was transported on the city river Spaarne.

It’s interesting to note that Haarlem is the only town in Holland which has its own unique beer style. In the Jopen Brewery are the copper brewing kettles visible behind the long bar, as well as the 8 large storage tanks (5 of 60 hl. and one of 30, 20 and 10 hl. respectively) which can be seen behind glass. The most interesting architectural aspects of the Jopenkerk on the outside are the five large windows to the N and S side of the main entrance and the rose window on the front door. Getting inside you’ll find a system of lofts and stairs, created for standing spaces with couches, chairs and long tables to have lunch, dinner or to drink beer. When we spoke with the architect who had developed this renovation, he told us his main concern was to realize a comfortable atmosphere focusing mainly on the windows. The problems to be faced were in fact, the acoustics and aesthetics. While the outside façade of the church was supposed to keep its character and its elegant and sober style, it was necessary for the inside of the building to find a solution for the wide open spaces and to take care of proper sound isolation and noise control.

“And what was the solution? But Elementary, my dear Watson

The use of the double stained glass, isolating the space from noise, allows the building to create intense light effects that make the Jopenkerk one of the most attractive monuments in Haarlem.


Jopenkerk impressions (Photos: Luca Coppola)


Luca Coppola
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