You thought I was going to talk about that church again, didn’t you. You’re probably relieved, if not a little confused, to see this photo. What is it? Why, it’s the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida! You see, this is where my mind first goes to when I hear the words St. Augustine. Sure, sure, there’s Augustine of Hippo, the theologian who blathered on about original sin, but as a native Floridian, the city in northern Florida is my Augustine of choice.
But that’s all you’re going to get about the city that most Floridians visit on a school field trip when studying Florida history in fourth grade. I actually am going to tell you a tiny bit more about the church here in Utrecht. Psych! How could I resist when I’ve been sitting on these photos for the past month. They were a few of the photos that survived my camera’s memory stick crash.
As I’ve mentioned, the church is on the Oudegracht, the main canal running through the city. Its location gives it a pretty spectacular appearance, especially when viewed down on the wharves at the canal level. Interestingly, although many churches are built so that the altar area is situated facing east and the entrance is facing west, this church is oriented the opposite way, mainly because it would have been a shame to have the glorious facade on the smaller Rozenstraat behind it.
If you’re interested as to why churches usually have the altar end facing east, there are a few reasons. The main being that the altar faces east toward Jerusalem, but there’s also the symbolism of the sun rising in the east, signifying rebirth. That was one of the reasons for the development of the stained glass apses in Gothic churches. During morning services, the rising sun would illuminate the glorious windows and leave worshippers in awe.
Augustinuskerk was built in 1839-40 and was the first large Roman Catholic church to be built in Utrecht after the Reformation. The architect for this neo-classical church was Karel George Zocher, whom I know better for his work designing some of the park areas along the eastern edge of the old city center.
The neo-classical style is evident in the large columns across the front of the church, which support the classic Doric entablature. There’s also a fantastic running key pattern that runs across the front entrance.
I’ve not gone inside the church, but my research and some of the interior photos I’ve seen tell me the interior is neo-baroque, with a heavily decorated altar and side chapels. However, it also seems that the church is closed during the winter, so I may have to wait a while to see the interior for myself. But then, I think it’s the exterior that I’m bound to like the most anyway.