Jessie Burton's 2014 novel The Miniaturist painted a sumptuous picture of 17th-century Amsterdam, a bustling city at the heart of trade and enterprise during the Dutch Golden Age.


Readers were invited to view the city and its glorious architecture through the eyes of young Nella Oortman, a woman making her first tentative steps toward adulthood in the house of her mysterious husband, Johannes Brandt.

Bringing 1600s Amsterdam to life on screen in the 21st century was always going to prove challenging, but the team behind the BBC adaptation figured out a way to do just that.

Where are the canal scenes in The Miniaturist filmed?

Jessie Burton’s novel may be set in Amsterdam but the TV adaptation has to look elsewhere when filming canal scenes for the drama. The university city of Leiden was the ideal location as it quite simply looked old enough.

Amsterdam, with its many neon signs, was just a tad too modern so the production found the exteriors they needed a little further south.

Leiden's canals provide the setting for The Miniaturist's waterways
A typical canal in Leiden (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images, SD)

Leiden's historic Rapenburg Canal provided the perfect setting for many of the beautiful shots of waterways, while its streets served as the streets of Amsterdam.

Where is the house in The Miniaturist?

(The Miniaturist, BBC)

Nella’s new home in Amsterdam isn’t actually in Amsterdam at all. In fact, you won’t find it anywhere as the ideal house just doesn’t exist.

The residence’s look was inspired by Ham House, south of Richmond in London, but many of its interiors were actually filmed in Langleybury House near Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire. The team worked to create the 17th century look inside the building (which has also been used in The Crown and upcoming BBC drama McMafia) recreating 17th century wall hangings and bringing in a lot of 17th century furniture.

Nella's bedroom, for example, was built especially for the production.

Where are the church scenes in The Miniaturist filmed?

Amsterdam's Oude Kerk is in the city's Red Light District so The Miniaturist had to search elsewhere for a church in which to shoot. Luckily enough they found the perfect one in, you guessed it, Leiden.

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The scenes in which Nella, Marin, Cornelia and Otto attend church were filmed in the city's late gothic Pieterskerk.

Emily Berrington as The Miniaturist
Emily Berrington as The Miniaturist (BBC/The Forge)

The building is no longer a functioning church. It was deconsecrated in 1971 and has been used as an event space since the 1970s.

This article was originally published on 12 December 2017


The Miniaturist airs on Sunday 9 September at 9/8c on PBS Masterpiece