By the Mariaplaats, on the western side of town, not far from the train station, is the Pandhof Sinte Marie, or St. Mary’s Courtyard. It’s part of the remnants of a covered walkway and monastery garden that was part of the Mariakerk (church) that once stood in the area.
The sunken garden is a beautiful, peaceful oasis in the city, much like the courtyard next to the cathedral. It’s one of those places to simply go and relax and ponder life.
The last time I was there, I was pondering the colonnade (the covered walkway) that runs along two sides of the garden area. The Romanesque style colonnade — and colonnades in general — will be taking on greater meaning in my life in the future.
One of my favorite markets is back in town this Saturday and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re in Utrecht. The Zelfgemaakte Markt (handmade market) usually splits its time between Utrecht and Den Bosch, but will be popping up at Mariaplaats a few times this summer, although this is the last opportunity before August.
The market has some truly beautiful, stylish items and usually at surprisingly affordable prices. I saw some pieces by Toepas at the last market that I’m particularly interested in for the wine bar, so I’m hoping they return.
The last two times I’ve gone, I’ve ended up buying prints from Studio Ellessi. I bought a print of the Domtoren at the Christmas Zelfgemaakte Markt last year. It was love at first sight. I’d also fallen for her print of the Orloff café (located at Donkere Gard), but didn’t have enough money on me at the time to get it too. So when the market returned last month, I was hoping she’d be back and have the print. I was in luck! I still need to get a frame for it (and for some of my photos I’ve had printed), but I have a spot all picked out for the Orloff print. She also does drawings of interiors and I’m hoping to be able to get one done of Vino Veritas at some point in the future. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Utrecht this Saturday, go to the Zelfgemaakte Markt. It’s a fantastic display of some truly talented people and its in a beautiful setting. Utrecht at it’s finest! And then come to Bilstraat and visit us at Vino Veritas and tell me what you bought. 😉
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 view from Mariaplaats up Zadelstraat caught my eye for both the pink balloons, as well as the view through the arch of the Domtoren which rises up at the end of the street. Add in the flowers on the lamps, the slightest hint of a hill, and the woman on the bike, and I found this shot irresistible.
Here’s the long view of the street, with the Domtoren fully in view:
We stumbled across what may be Utrecht’s most unusual and fantastic store while out on Sunday. Those are, indeed, anatomical models of eyeballs and other body parts that you see in the photo. Van Leest Antiques (Mariaplaats 45) specializes in scientific and medical instruments, along with other related items. As you can see, they have plenty of anatomical models of various flora and fauna, but they also have scientific machines, including a Faraday cage and a “Leyden jar for a Tesla preparation”. They also have some wonderful medicine chests and apothecary jars and even skeletons and fluid-preserved specimens. It’s historic, informative, fascinating, creepy and so much more!
I had no idea this shop was here, but I’m thrilled to know it exists! In a world of chain retail outlets taking over, and smaller independent shops like the lovely Koek & Chocolade closing its doors here in Utrecht, it’s wonderful to know that something to unusual and niche is still here. Even if you can’t visit the shop yourself, do check out the website. It’s in both Dutch and English and is fantastic to click through all the amazing offerings. There are also better photos of the inside of the store. Unfortunately, I was limited to a few photos of the front window heavy with reflections of the surrounding area.
It’s not New Orleans; it’s off the Mariaplaats here in Utrecht, but it certainly does remind me of some of the beautiful buildings with their wrought-iron balconies in New Orleans. This photo was taken a couple of months ago in mid October. It was getting colder by then, but we still had some days of beautiful golden sunlight. The famous Dutch Light isn’t a myth to me. It can be absolutely stunning here sometimes, making even the most mundane thing into a thing of beauty!
It seems there’s even a documentary that has been made about that famous Dutch light, investigating whether it’s more than a myth and if it still exists. I’m going to have to track this one down. For those of you with Netflix, it seems to be available there.
The past few days here have been a real mix of occasional sunlight, mixed in with snow, and the more frequent overcast skies. Not far off from the infamous four seasons in one day. We were expecting some more snow today, but that seems to have been altered to expected rain. In other words, it’s all kind of meh. Thank goodness for sparkly Christmas tree lights and warm chocomel (hot chocolate). I thought this picture might brighten things up a bit today, too. Cross your fingers that Sunday’s weather forecast improves. That’s the day of the Twijnstraat Kerstmarkt (Christmas market), which I enjoyed last year and hope to visit again.
A few months ago, I saw a photo of this statue on Flickr and was curious about it, since I hadn’t come across it before. Turns out it was on Mariaplaats, so not exactly out of the way. It’s just not a part of town that I visit that often, it seems. I wanted to go and see it myself, and finally went this past Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny morning, so G, Pippo and I headed out to find the statue. We ended up wandering through some areas I haven’t been before and I got to know some other areas a bit better. It was a good day for getting some interesting photos. Somehow I liked the inclusion of the gentleman sitting to the right. And it’s not a Dutch photo if there aren’t some bikes in the shot!