Throughout Utrecht, references to Sint Maarten (St. Martin) pop up everywhere. Perhaps not surprising, since he is Utrecht’s patron saint. The cathedral (where the above image is found) was dedicated to Sint Maarten,and the city’s coat of arms/flag is a visual reference to the saint’s history.
I’ve mentioned the city’s red and white flag in the past and how it relates to Sint Maarten. The story goes that Maarten was approached by a beggar on the street. As a poor soldier, Maarten had no money to give and was not allowed to give away his military coat, so he got creative and cut his red coat in half in order to at least share it with the beggar. That night, in a dream, the grateful beggar revealed himself to be Jesus.
The city’s coat of arms (a shield divided diagonally into red and white) and flag (the same diagonal red and white) represent the red cloak and the white undershirt of Maarten.
Although the story may be old, it seems to hold a special place in the heart of one local resident in the Wittevrouwen neighborhood. He recently commissioned a large mural of the saint for the side of his house. At the corner of Zandhofsestraat and Bladstraat, the story of Sint Maarten cutting his coat for the beggar is depicted against the backdrop of the historic old Wittevrouwen city gate.
The mural was created by artists Zinzi Rozema and Marij Nielen (of the Makershuis Maanzaad), along with Jos Peeters. It’s a simple but striking image of two of Utrecht’s great symbols. Rather appropriately, you can even see the Utrecht flag hanging to the left of the mural.
I really do love this street. I posted various photos of it — and some of the wall art — earlier in the year. Any time I head to the Vredenburg market on Saturdays, I always cut through Zakkendragersteeg, because it’s just so charming and picturesque and gezellig. Last week, as we cut through to the market, I noticed this new bit of wall art. It’s a bit of decoration for Restaurant de Zakkendrager, with a bit of influence from Vermeer. Yet another reason for me to love this narrow street.
In fact, the Oudaen castle that I posted about in my last Time Travel entry is next to this street, so if you visit one, you can see the other! Further down Zakkendragersteeg, there are also some new posters up on the wall, showing old photos and drawings of the area, while explaining a bit of the history. Sadly, my camera’s batteries were dying at that point, not to mention it was starting to rain, so I don’t have any photos of those to share. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to go again soon and maybe check some of the other side streets off the Oudegracht to see if there are more of these posters.
We’re expecting more rain again this weekend, so I doubt I’ll do much exploring, but I am thinking of heading to the Utrechtse Archief (Utrecht Archives) to check out an exhibit of old photos showing how animals have been a part of the city over the years. Fijn weekend!
There are a number of fantastic paintings on walls throughout Utrecht. This is one of the more recent ones I’ve noticed. It’s a cartoon and poem drawn and written by Dirkje Kuik, a fascinating figure in Dutch art and literature. I have a lot more to learn about Kuik myself, so for now, I’ll just leave you to enjoy this simple bit of wall art located in the museumkwartier (museum quarter) of the city, at the corner of Oudekamp and Herenstraat, opposite the Dirkje Kuik museum on Oudekamp.