Weekly Photo Challenge: Hidden

Traditional Steps and Shutters
I had various ideas of what to photograph for the theme “Hidden” this week, but after looking through my photos and thinking about what I saw while out on Saturday, I decided to go with the idea of things that are hidden in plain sight. In this case, architectural gems that are easy enough to walk past and miss, unless you look up occasionally. When you consider the height of some of these buildings and the generally narrow streets they stand on, it becomes even harder to notice their beautiful details sometimes.

In both examples for today, I had to take multiple shots and stitch them together to get a full view of the buildings. I was up against the walls and down low, trying to get a whole shot, and realized it just wasn’t going to work.

The first building is one that I couldn’t resist, because it’s such a great example of traditional Dutch architecture, with the stepped rooftop and the wonderfully painted shutters. I’ve taken numerous shots of the individual details over the years, on multiple buildings, but I never tire of spotting them.

The next building really was a bit of a hidden gem, despite being right off the Oudegracht, on Choorstraat, one of the busy shopping streets. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the sights at the street level, that it’s easy to miss the decorative details hiding just out of view on the upper floors. This one is particularly appealing because of the style of fonts used in the text that pops up in various spots.

Art Deco Design

Het huis van Ouds St. Maarten (The house of old St. Martin): Notice the striped brickwork around the window, as well.
Deco Detail

Additional decorative details and dates (1869-1896)
Deco Details
After a cursory search, I haven’t turned up any specific details about the building’s history. Perhaps someone else knows and will share in the comments.

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16 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Hidden

  1. There are many architectural details like these that somehow fade into the background especially when there are flashy modern establishments to seduce one’s eye. They lend a lot of charm to a building and shows the builder’s pride of place. Good of you to notice and share them with us. 🙂

    • Sometimes, as in this old section of the city, there are just so many interesting details that they all run together, especially being packed in so tightly. This one was a particular joy to notice. Sometimes you can pass something constantly, and then one day it suddenly jumps out at you.

  2. I understand your translation of “Het huis van Ouds St. Maarten (The house of old St. Martin)” but that is not quite what it says. At one time this was a new façade of a very old house that may have looked like the one on the first picture. In those old days the house was known by the name Saint Martin. That word “Vanouds” (it is one word now) means something like ‘in the old days known as’, but it can also simply mean ‘before’ or ‘earlier’. Nothing to do with Saint Martin being old 😉 It is almost Saint Martin (11-11) and then there’ll be children doing trick or treat in Utrecht.

    • Thank you! I really did think that it translated a bit differently, but didn’t know how exactly. That was one of the reasons I was trying to find out more about the building. I figured that the building itself was most likely much older and it had just been refurbished later. Thanks for the explanation!

    • I’m a Dutchie living in Utrecht and I too love looking up while shopping or just walking the city and noticing the lovely old facades of the city centre buildings. I also love spotting Art Deco style houses in the neighbourhoods surrounding the old centre. Did you know Saint Martin is the patron saint of Utrecht, and that the city’s emblem (the diagonally red and white coloured shield, often displayed on lampposts and buildings throughout the city) depicts the half of the cape this saint allegedly gave away to a beggar (who turned out to be Jesus in disguise)? I studied Medieval history at uni here, so that’s why I know 🙂

      Also, look out for the sign in the Choorstraat’s pavement stating the place where “Suster Bertken” (sister Bertken), a medieval nun, was walled in at her own request and lived in a tiny bare cell for years, praying for passer’s by who handed her charities.

      • I’ve got a post somewhere about St. Martin, his coat, and how the story is the basis for the Utrecht city flag, etc. There was a recent display at the cathedral (unsurprisingly) of paintings depicting the story of St. Martin. It was interesting to see the story depicted in a range of painting styles.

        I’ve read about Suster Bertken, but haven’t noticed the sign yet. I keep meaning to go look for the spot. Maybe this weekend if the weather permits. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Gorgeous building. You are right. I think we do spend quite a bit of time walking fast and with our focus usually on our feet or the road ahead, but rarely do we pause enough to look up. Really look. And because of this, we miss so much. Thank you for the reminder. : )

  4. I too am drawn by the idea of “hiding in plain sight.”
    It’s fun to discover the details, almost layer by layer.
    Especially like your noticing the different “fonts” on that second building, and then focusing on the different details that make them up.
    Fascinating stuff.

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