Today is the official Stadsdag (city day), commemorating the date that Utrecht became an official city. On June 2, 1122, Henrik V officially recognized Utrecht as a city. (However, don’t forget that Utrecht as an inhabited location has been around since at least 50 CE with the Roman fortifications, and people may have inhabited the area during the Stone Age, going back to 2200 BCE.)
Although today is the official date, the celebrations were held yesterday. Sadly, I didn’t get to get out and enjoy them. There were birthday cakes galore, with neighborhood baking competitions and a final round for the neighborhood winners. Appropriately, representations of Nijntje (Miffy) and the Domtoren were among the winners.
Numerous other events also took place yesterday, including the opening of a new exhibit, but I’ll save the details for another post. I’m hoping to squeeze in a visit of my own sometime this week. *fingers crossed* In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the news that the trompe l’oeil image that used to hang on the cathedral is back! It was a nice surprise that I noticed on Saturday while I was out. It’s good to see it back.
The theme of this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge (for which I’m just scraping in under the wire) is Monuments. I had thought of doing something a little less obvious, but when I saw some news stories this week, I figured I’d go with the obvious monument here in Utrecht: the Domkerk or St. Martin’s Cathedral.
The best example of French Gothic church architecture in the Netherlands, the cathedral is a standout for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the nave of the cathedral was destroyed in a storm in the 1600s and never rebuilt. Various chapels and churches dedicated to St. Martin have stood there since around 700 AD. Construction of the current church began in 1254. As old as it is, and considering what it’s faced over the centuries, conservation and restoration are vital.
Currently, two of the buttresses (luchtbogen in Dutch) need to be repaired and restored. There is no government subsidy to help, so a crowdfunding campaign has begun, with the hopes of raising the €50,000 necessary for the work. If you want to make a donation, go to the Draag de Dom website. As well as doing something good to help maintain this beautiful symbol of Utrecht, you also receive various rewards, depending on the size of the donation.
I haven’t done one of the Weekly Photo Challenges in a while, but I do have a fondness for windows, which is this week’s theme, so I couldn’t resist. It was an early theme last year, as well, and I did a post about the cathedral’s windows then and I’m doing the cathedral windows again. They’re a regular source of inspiration, thanks to both their Gothic beauty and the light they often catch. They may not feature much stained glass nowadays, but they still glow with the sunlight that courses through them.
The cathedral in Utrecht (Netherlands) is known as the Dom or St. Martin’s Cathedral and construction of its current form was begun in 1254. Previous incarnations of the church (first dating back to 630) were destroyed by fire, Normans, and other typical architectural challenges of the time.
The cathedral is the only one of its kind in the Netherlands to closely resemble the classic Gothic architectural style of France. Other Gothic cathedrals in the Netherlands feature more regional variations. In 1566, statues, reliefs, and other interior decorations were destroyed as a result of the Calvinist austerity that was sweeping through the Low Countries at the time. Although originally a Catholic church, it became a Protestant church in 1580.
That wasn’t to be the end of the drama. In 1674, the nave of the cathedral collapses during a massive storm and was never rebuilt. Fortunately, the transept and apse remain and are still in use.