Southern Gargoyles

Gargoyle 13
I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I posted any gargoyles! I’ve been taking photos, but haven’t been blogging them due to work/time/patience restraints. I think it’s definitely time to rectify this! The stone sentries you’ll be seeing today are my southern gargoyles, and while I could make some sort of analogy about the rough state of some of them, the reality is that they’re simply the gargoyles on the southern wall of the Pandhof.

First up is our wavy-haired friend above. His face may be a bit weathered — wear sunscreen, folks! — but his hair still looks fabulous!

Our next fellow really does seem appropriate for the southern wall, as he does have a bit of the yokel about him. I shall call him Cletus.
Gargoyle 14

One of the particularly interesting things about Cletus is that he seems to be sitting on an upside down head. I know it’s not usually polite to stare between someone’s legs, but when there’s a whole head there, I think you can be excused for looking.
Gargoyle 14

Our next watery friend is rather handsome in a winged kind of way. He’s got wing-like ears and a set of rather fancily curved proper wings, too.
Gargoyle 15
Gargoyle 15

Unfortunately, the next two have seen better days. In fact, they seem to be missing most of their heads now, so they’re not seeing much at all! Spare a moment of silence for our two wounded waterspouts.
Gargoyle 16
Gargoyle 17

Finally, we have our winged cow. I’m familiar with the saying “when pigs fly”, but “when cows fly” is a new one for me.
Gargoyle 18
Or maybe it’s just the angle. From this angle, Bessie the Cow looks a bit more like Winston the Wolf.
Gargoyle 18

So there you have it, the southern wall of the Pandhof and the gargoyles spread along it.
Southern Wall

Atmospheric Utrecht

Evening Glow
Friday was my birthday, and after a lovely evening out for drinks and dinner, we took a quick walk around parts of town before the rain came. Well, mostly before the rain came. I’m incapable of avoiding the Domplein, so of course I headed over to see what kinds of photos I could get. I got lucky with the lighting.

There’s nothing like a Gothic cathedral and bell tower backlit by a red sky at night! Fabulously spooky!
Gothic Cathedral

Domtoren at Night

A Light Show 300 Years in the Making

Early Stages
There’s been a lot of activity in the Domplein and around the Domtoren for the past month. Unfortunately, it’s all rather unattractive and currently has the walkway beneath the Domtoren completely blocked off while they dig deep trenches. Fortunately, the end result should be quite spectacular. You see, it’s all part of the latest Trajectum Lumen installation.

As I’ve mentioned before, Trajectum Lumen is a series of light art installations throughout the city. They’ve been going up gradually for the past few years as a lead-up to the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht, which is this April. The grand finale, so to speak, will be an impressive light show in the Domplein and in the Domtoren itself. That’s what all the construction is for right now.

Early Stages
There’s been a massive crane nearby, off and on, for the past month, as well. My photos are all from January, but it turns out the crane is back this week, because they’ve been using it to move lots of boxes of equipment up to the different levels of the Domtoren. The local news was there to see some of it and got an amazing view of it all as the cameraperson got to go up in the crane. You don’t need to understand Dutch to appreciate the view in the short video. (They don’t have it up on Youtube yet, but when they do, I’ll try to add it to the post.)

Domtoren and Crane
The crane and the Domtoren are both so massive that it’s hard to get a good angle to put it in perspective. I love the very bit at the end of the video where someone says, “Hoog hoor.” Hoog means high and hoor is one of those words that is hard to translate but acts as a form of emphasis.

The installation doesn’t open until April, but in the meantime, you can see a digital version of what it should look like once all 351 lamps are installed. If you can’t make it for the anniversary in April, it’s ok. The installation is supposed to be in place for the next five years!

The Return of the Gargoyles

Gargoyle 8
When last we visited the Sint Maarten Kathedraal waterspuwers (St. Martin Cathedral gargoyles), we had moved into the Pandhof, the cloistered garden area of the cathedral. Sadly, work and weather have prevented me from getting over there as often as I had hoped, but I have finished one side of the garden area. I figured I’d go ahead and share photos of this particular batch. There are some interesting looking fellows and one poor guy who has been battered by the elements.

First up is my big-eared favorite who seems to have a fish head for a bottom, and the fish has wings instead of gills. I still can’t quite wrap my head around this one, but I absolutely love it.
Gargoyle 8

Next is our 1970s porn-stache entrant. That’s a face with a ton of personality! Unfortunately, some of it gets lost in the snow.
Gargoyle 9

Gargoyle 9

Gargoyle 9

Big mouth strikes again with this next fellow showing off his teeth. He’s got cloven hooves and a stylish medieval neck/shoulder warmer. Another impressive pair of ears, as well!
Gargoyle 10

Gargoyle 10

Next we come to a stylish lion with one impressive head of curls! Still, I wouldn’t tease him about the amount of time he spends on his hair. He’ll take a chunk out of you with those fangs!
Gargoyle 11

Gargoyle 11

Finally we come to the poor guy who’s seen better days. I feel bad for him having to hang out with mister hairdo right there next to him. Still, I’m sure our big mouthed friend on the other side of Locks of Lion is happier not to see what he’s bound to turn into some day. There’s a distinct family resemblance.
Gargoyle 12

Gargoyle 12

Pandhof Gargoyles: The Beginning

Gargoyle 4
My photography project of taking photos of all of the gargoyles on various parts of the Domkerk continues. Without a tripod for my camera, I thought I’d move into the Pandhof, the cloistered garden area next to the cathedral, since most of those gargoyles are a bit lower and easier to shoot. I’m still hoping to get a tripod at some point, since the extra stability will come in useful for the higher-up gargoyles, but there are plenty of creatures in the Pandhof to keep me going until I do get a tripod.

I continue to be fascinated by all the little details that make up these fabulous grotesques. Each one is unique, like a demented snowflake. This first fellow is pretty scary with his cloven feet, pugnacious nose, and big snarling mouth.

The next fellow is some strange hybrid of snail and Gary Busey.
Gargoyle 6

Gargoyle 6

This next one I think of as a Babushka Gryffin. I love the little head scarf.
Gargoyle 5

Gargoyle 5

And finally, we have the one I got today, which is just inside the back entrance to the Pandhof. I like to think of him as my Billy Goat Gruff.
Gargoyle 7

Gargoyle 7

Gargoyle 7

A Year with the Gargoyles

First Section
One of the things I love about Gothic architecture is the sheer amount of detail. From the tracery in the windows to the finials that seem to top every point, there’s always something to see. Often, each bit of decorative detail is different from any other piece on the cathedral, like snowflakes.

Having taken last year off from the 365 photo project — the goal to take at least one photo every day — I decided to give it a go again this year. I figured it would encourage me to go for walks on my own and keep looking at the world around me. While out for our New Year’s Day walk, we stopped by the cathedral. I’m as drawn to the whole Domplein as a needle is drawn to north on a compass. While taking in the majestic detail of the apse, I had the idea to incorporate the cathedral into my overall 365 project. My goal this year is to photograph every gargoyle on the cathedral and in the garden next to it. Once that’s done, I’ll probably go back and start photographing various other decorative details until I’ve captured almost every inch of the place!

I could easily spend a whole day there, taking photos of each and every figure, but to keep me going out on a regular basis, I’m only taking photos of one gargoyle a day. I don’t do it every single day; but I’m aiming to go almost daily. I’ll probably do a post at the end of each week, or maybe I’ll just start a separate Tumblr blog for them. We’ll see.

I had to start somewhere, so I chose the section of the cathedral that you see above. It’s in the back of the cathedral on the southern side, near the entrance to the Pandhof. There are three gargoyles that run along the top of this section of the building, on the three bits of buttressing. I started left to right and you can see them in that order in the following pictures. I tried to get them head on and from a side view.

Gargoyle 1

This next one reminds me of a Muppet, like a cross between Fozzy Bear and Sam the Eagle.
Gargoyle 2

Gargoyle 2

Gargoyle 3

Gargoyle 3

A Square That Should Not Be

The other week, as part of the city’s anniversary celebrations, the Domtoren was playing a variety of songs, including popular local songs. One of my favourites, and the one that you can hear in this video I filmed, is called Utereg Me Stadje, which is a local dialect way of saying Utrecht, My City. It was written and performed in the 1970s by Herman Berkien, an Utrecht folk and cabaret singer. If you want to hear his version, there are a number of options on YouTube, including this one.

As for the video itself, it was filmed in the Domplein, and I’m standing where the nave of the cathedral used to be. You see, Utrecht has a grand, Gothic cathedral … it’s just missing half of it. The nave was destroyed in a heavy storm in 1674. There wasn’t the money to rebuild it, nor it seems, was there money to clean up the mess, since it wasn’t officially cleaned up until 1829. No, that’s not a typo. I thought I procrastinated!

Towering
The large statue in the video and in the photo above is a war memorial and it stands up against the outer wall of what is left of the cathedral. Essentially, all that is left is the transept (the arms part of the cross) and the apse (the part with the altar, etc.). In the photo, you can see that they’ve painted the wall with a trompe l’oeil effect to make it look as if you’re looking toward the apse, giving you the view you’d have if the nave still stood.

Parts of the cathedral ruins were used for other buildings, I’m sure, as they always are. What is interesting about the site now is that they’ve marked out, using different coloured bricks, where parts of the cathedral and other buildings used to stand.  In the following photo, you can see the octagonal shape where one of the columns inside the nave used to stand. Next to it is a floor memorial or some sort of similar marker that echoes the numerous ones inside the cathedral.

Ghost Columns

On one hand, it’s sad that the full Gothic structure doesn’t remain. On the other hand, we’ve got a wonderful square that is used for all sorts of events, as you can perhaps tell from the banging sounds of construction in the background of my video. They were setting up two different stages that day in preparation for the Stadsdag events and the following day’s Cultural Sunday dance events. It’s a wonderful meeting place, and in the end, I’m kind of glad they didn’t rebuild it. The tower may be lonely, as a new song says, and it might be the square that wasn’t meant to be, but it has become a beautiful blend of man and nature, as the trees stand as their own columns now.

Occupy Utrecht

Photo Op

Fiat 500
When I arrived at the Domplein yesterday, I was surprised to see this adorable Fiat 500 parked in the middle of the square. With all of the temporary stages under construction around the square, in preparation for the festivities later in the day, I wondered what role the car was to play.

After admiring the car for a bit, I wandered into the pandhof (the cloister gardens next to the cathedral) and was surprised once again to see a single red balloon attached to a bag sitting in the garden.
Red Balloon

All of these little mysteries soon were revealed when I spotted a woman in a white dress, holding a bouquet.
Bride

A newly married couple was taking advantage of the beautiful setting to have some wedding photos taken in the garden area. I’m sure it’s a popular location for wedding photos; it’s certainly not the first time I’ve seen a newly married couple in the area. The balloon belonged to the couple, as did the car. When I left much later, the couple and the car were both gone. Hopefully, they went on to have a wonderful celebration and a lifetime of happiness.

Bride and Groom