The Sound of Utrecht’s Domtoren

Today is Hemelvaart (Ascension Day) and a holiday here in the Netherlands. One of traditions (although I’m not sure how widespread/popular) is to head out early in the morning for a walk or bike ride. I woke up relatively early this morning and decided to follow the tradition and go for a walk around town. The weather was gorgeous and the city was peaceful and fairly empty, except for joggers and dog walkers, so it was a perfect time to wander. I’ve got a ton of photos, which I’m sure I’ll be posting, especially on days when words fail me.

Words kind of failed me this morning, from the sheer beauty of the city I live in. I had been walking along the Nieuwegracht, heading to the Domplein, when the bells of the Domtoren began to ring. I LOVE the sound and in that setting along the tree-lined canal, it was a perfect moment. As I left the Nieuwegracht and began to walk down Achter de Dom, the small street behind the cathedral, it all just got even better. With the cathedral rising up at the end of the street, the crenelated castle-like roof of one of the buildings on the left, the picturesque row of black Pyke Koch lamps, the blue sky, and the wonderful sound of the bells echoing and reverberating in the street, I really was in awe of getting to experience moments like this on a surprisingly regular basis. Life is good!
Achter De Dom

Since no one else was around, I filmed a bit of the experience to share, to give you a hint of what it’s like. Sadly, my camera can’t begin to capture the full experience. Still, I hope you get a sense of it all.


8 thoughts on “The Sound of Utrecht’s Domtoren

  1. Ah that sound! To me that’s “Home”. But you’re right that there is a lot missing about the experience. If you are that close as where you filmed this, you sense that sound as well as you hear it. Everything seems to resonate with it. Wonderful feeling. Don’t think the early morning activities are of the region of Utrecht though. At least when I grew up there we didn’t have that tradition.

    • You’re absolutely right; when you are that close, you really do seem to feel it in your whole body. One of my dreams for the future is to get involved with the bell ringers guild. The sound thrills me to no end.

      I’m curious as to who does do the “douwtrappen” as I think it’s called and where it’s done. I’ve definitely read about it, but it does seem as if it’s regional (not Utrecht) or rarely done. Regardless, it was a good excuse to get out and enjoy the city, although I did miss having my dog to go walk with me. I did meet a lovely dog named Pieter, though. 🙂

  2. Lovely sound isn’t it, I love it when the bells just start plating when you’re close to the Dom. It never gets old, I always stop to listen for a bit. Btw “dauwtrappen” (literally “trampling dew”) means that thing cats do when they start sort of “massaging” something with their front paws, like they do to their mother’s belly when they’re kittens to get the milk out. Never heard that word used to describe early morning walks though. Little walks or bike rides on Sundays and holidays are common all over the country I think. Not much else to do on days like that, apart from going to IKEA. Which is what the other half of the population is doing most likely on days like this 🙂

  3. Confirming Douwtrap traditions a bit to the north of Utrecht around Baarn. Used to exist when I grew up there, at least. Also unsure how widespread it is, but at least you’re not hallucinating things!

    • Thanks for the confirmation! It’s a nice tradition, even if it’s not widespread. One of the nice things about expat life is picking new traditions to add to your own life. 🙂

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