This is a different view of the St. Martin’s Cathedral than I usually get, but it does give you a better sense of just how big the cathedral was when it was complete (or close enough). The part that remains is the transept (the part that essentially forms the arms of the cross of many churches) and the apse (the usually rounded bit at the top of the cross/church). As I’ve explained before, the nave (or main body of the cathedral) was destroyed in a storm in the 1600s. It reached all the way to the Domtoren, which is just out of sight on the far left of the photo. Seeing the church from this angle really does give a better sense of just how big it was and just how much was lost in the storm.
Plus, bonus bakfiets (the sort of wheelbarrow bike) on the right!
Last week, Utrecht turned a bit misty, but that didn’t stop the city from looking stunning as usual. A number of people took amazing photos of the Domtoren with its own shadows in the mist. And now it turns out someone else captured some beautiful aerial footage with a drone of the Domtoren in the mist. I’m just envious that I didn’t see it for myself.
It’s been a fun and busy week, with friends visiting, giving me a chance to explore the city anew, as well as visit a few new places here and in other cities. Lots to post about, lots of photos to share, but right now, not a lot of time. So I’ll start with a simple one.
My friends were staying at an airbnb over by Mariaplaats (very cute!), so we often met up at the Domplein as a starting point. One day, while waiting, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the remembrance statue and the trompe l’oeil depiction of the interior of the cathedral framed by the Domtoren walkway. All the empty space in between used to be the nave of the cathedral, but that was destroyed in a “tempest” back in the 1600s. The large image on the wall serves as a sort of window into the interior of the cathedral, looking toward the apse. In the illustration, you can see some of the central ring of columns, the stained glass at the eastern end of the church, and even some of the chandeliers. And this is how it actually looks inside.
There’s a little less stained glass throughout, but otherwise it’s the same. Either way, it’s a beautiful interior, even without all of the statues and decorations that were stripped out during the Reformation. I cut my art history teeth on Gothic architecture, so I do have a fondness for this cathedral, inside and out.
This is the northern side of the cathedral, and it was the decorative finials silhouetted against the bright blue sky that initially caught my eye that particular day. Still, seeing more of the detail of the Gothic architecture, as well as the daily street life also appealed to me. So you get both! And if you’re in the Netherlands, you can use this to remind yourself that it’s not always raining here (it just feels like it today).
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.