(photo via Het Utrechts Archief)
While looking through the online version of Het Utrechts Archief, I came across this 1730 image of Janskerk (St. John’s Church). The church itself was first founded in 1040 by Bishop Bernold and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. In the early-mid 1500s, the church was expanded, and in the 1970s, it was heavily restored. Yet when you look at this image, it’s fascinating to see how little really has changed, at least since this drawing was done.
I tried to get as similar a view as possible, but it’s a surprisingly large church and because of the buildings across the street from the church, I wasn’t able to step back any further to show the surrounding area. In the original drawing, there are just trees, although I’m not sure that isn’t just a bit of artistic license. Yet it’s not that different from how it is now. The square that surrounds the church, known as Janskerkhof, is quite large. In fact, that’s where the weekly flower market is held and the area to the right, behind the apse, is where the Christmas trees are for sale each year.
The church is still used for services every Sunday, but it is also used for a variety of events, both public and private. It can be rented for special programs and is also the usual home of the World Press Photo Exhibit when it comes to Utrecht. It is also a part of the Trajectum Lumen light art installations, with multiple designs in place, both on the grounds, and special changing lights inside the church.