I’ve walked by this garden a number of times, without realizing it was there. I really do need to spend more time around the Mariaplaats. It’s amazing the things I keep finding there. I was reminded of it recently when viewing some of the great photos of Utrecht on the website Terug Naar Utrecht (Back to Utrecht). Sunday, I decided it was time to finally go see it for myself. A morning of rain seemed like it was going to ruin my plans, but the afternoon cleared up and we were left with surprisingly warm weather and lots of bright sunshine.
The cloister, or pandhof, is all that really remains of the Mariakerk (Church of St. Mary), which was built in the 11th century and remained standing in one form or another until the 1800s. Here’s what the official website has to say about the gardens:
St.Mary’s Cloisters are all that is left of the Church of St. Mary, which formed the centre of the Mariaplaats (St. Mary’s Square). The courtyard and the remaining buildings of the 11th century cloisters surrounding it are known by the name Pandhof Sinte Marie. St. Mary’s Church was a collegiate church; the clergymen (canons) had religious as well as worldly power. They owned houses on their territory (‘immunity’), the Mariaplaats, which was separated from the city by a canal. The church appears on several of Pieter Saenredam’s paintings from the 17th century.
At the end of the 18th century only the choir remained, which was used as a concert-hall. In 1845 it was torn down and the present Arts and Sciences Building (K&W) was erected. The garden was redesigned in 1973. The Mariaplaats has been subjected to many changes over the years, but it has kept its view of the Buurkerk and Dom Tower.
This little guy has been hanging out in our back garden recently. This means that Lola has been hanging out in our kitchen a lot recently. Any time she catches a glimpse of him, she starts chattering away and stares intently until he flies away or we distract her.
It would seem that just the sight of him here on my laptop is enough to catch her interest, as she’s currently standing on my left arm and staring at the laptop screen. She’s a patient devil; I could be trapped here for ages! It wouldn’t be the first time she’s trapped me.
Thanks to one of my Flickr contacts, I was reminded that there’s a palm tree growing in Utrecht. It can be found in the Flora’s Hof, behind the old gate of the Bisschopshof next to the Domtoren (the big church tower in the background). I was there earlier in the year when Amy came to visit, but didn’t think to get a shot of Orlando with the palm. This weekend, however, since I was over in the Domplein anyway for the Summer Darkness festival, I made a point of going over and getting this shot. More and more I feel at home here: flat landscape, humidity and now a palm tree!
Flora’s Hof stands on the remains of the bishop’s garden but is also the remains of a farm that stood in the area. Amazingly, the farm was established in the early 1800s, on the site of what was the demolished bishop’s court (bisschopshof). Hard to imagine farmland in the city center that recently, especially when you consider the city itself, in one form or another, has existed since the year 45 AD. Over the years, the farm shrank as buildings encroached it, until it folded around 1943. Eventually, the land was taken over and turned into a 19th century-style garden. Along with the central plantings (where the palm tree grows), there is a row of planters that change with the seasons. This spring, they were filled with tulips: