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This image (photo via Het Utrechts Archief) of Pieterskerkhof, with the Domtoren in the background, is from 1925. This is a stretch that really hasn’t changed much at all. That’s Pieterskerk (St. Peter’s Church), the brick building on the far left and the only thing that has changed slightly is the entrance, which seems to have grown a story and added a window. (It’s the bit right next to the white/grey building.)
The lamps have changed, there are a lot more bicycles, and a few trees have changed places, but otherwise, it’s instantly recognizable. Trust me, even the buildings in the background are the same.
I used to joke in the US about how certain streets were what I called “church row”, with seemingly a church on every street corner. This takes the cake, though. As I said, that’s a church there on the left and then not much further on, you can see the top of the cathedral and the Domtoren. I’m lousy at distances, but according to Google maps, it’s a walking distance of 230 meters/250 yards. They say it’s a three minute walk, but that seems awfully slow to me. Of course, if you stop to admire the local cats and the beautiful buildings, it will take a lot longer than three minutes.
Pieterskerkhof is definitely worth a visit if you’re visiting Utrecht or newly arrived. It’s a surprising cul de sac with a fascinating mix of old and new buildings and some great rooftop views. And when the sun filters through the trees, the charm level goes through the roof.
One last post today, as I noticed people getting to my blog via searches for the beautiful canals of Utrecht. We do have beautiful canals, the Oudegracht being one of the best known. I like how it changes depending on where along the canal you are. Some parts are busy and more commercial; one section features some of the typical tall, narrow buildings(see above); while another section is more quiet and residential. All are appealing in their own right.
The section in the first photo is filled with lots of great shops, including a nice yarn shop, and a shop called It’s a Present, which has lots of fun little decorative items, toys, and tchotchkes. The buildings along this section are the tall, narrow buildings many people think of when they think of Dutch canal buildings. One of the most charming views is of the old Magazin de Vlijt.
The southern end of the canal, along Twijnstraat, is the quieter spot and there are some areas along the wharves that have been built up recently, to protect against erosion perhaps? Regardless, they look lovely with all the greenery. This first photo was taken in the middle of December, with some beautiful winter sunlight.
These next two photos are of roughly the same spot, but taken from the opposite side of the canal, and a month earlier. The peace and tranquillity, not to mention the lovely views, make this one of my favorite spots in the city. Who wouldn’t want to sit out there with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the scenery.
As mentioned previously, while some friends were visiting last month, we took a trip to Rotterdam. There was only one main goal that day — a post still to come — but while we were there, I really wanted to see the Cube Houses.
The Cube Houses (kubuswoning) were built between 1982 and 1984, although the plans were first presented in 1978. The architect was Piet Blom. The first cube homes were actually built in Helmond, in 1974/75, as a test, and by 1977, a total of 18 were built in Helmond, although there were plans to built many more.
In Rotterdam, 38 cubes were built, along with two “super cubes”. All of the cubes are attached together. Per the Wikipedia description: “Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest.”
The cubes are used as residences, while the space in the pylons below is used for commercial purposes. The cubes themselves are divided into three levels, with the first floor serving as an open-plan living room and kitchen, the second floor has two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the top floor is sometimes used as a small garden. The walls and windows are angled at 54.7 degrees.
So many people have been curious to see the inside of the cube homes, that one owner converted one of the cubes into a show cube, to give people a feel for how the space is used residentially. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to see it for myself. Next time!
Last week I posted a photo with the top of the Neudeflat rising above — some would saying ruining — the skyline that typically features more traditional Dutch buildings and rooftops.
While out wandering around on Sunday, I couldn’t help but snap this shot of the Neudeflat from another perspective, actually in the square. Once again, it stands out in contrast to the more traditionally attractive building on the left. Interestingly, I had approached the square from a different street than I usually do, which gave me a new perspective on the square. In the photo from that perspective, you can see the red building (once again on the left) face on, rather than from the side. It’s the same red building in my blog’s header image. However, you can also see the square without the Neudeflat. Even with the tangle of bicycles, the Subway restaurant sign, and the large statue of patat/friets/fries in the foreground, there is a certain charm to the scene.
Utrecht is full of traditional Dutch architecture, with brick galore and stepped roof facades. But we also have a few more modern buildings, including the Neudeflat seen in the distance. This building, in particular, is pretty reviled throughout the city for being straight-up ugly, but there are a few who sing the building’s praises.
Me? I think I’d like it more if I could get up on the top floor to take photos of the city. If anyone knows how I can do that or when it will be open to the public the next time, please let me know. I will say that this Ode on the Neudeflat (in Dutch) did give me some new insight into the building that makes me like it much more now.