Paus Adrianus VI

Pope Adrian
I saw earlier this week that a statue of Pope Adrian VI had been installed in front of the Paushuize, so deciding on where to go for my long walk with Charlie this morning was a no-brainer. I’ve written about this pope and his house here in my blog and even for a magazine article, but if you need a refresher, Adrian/Adrianus was the one and only Dutch pope. He was born here in Utrecht and built a house here in town, though he never actually got to live in it. He died (was possibly poisoned) in 1523 and there wasn’t another non-Italian pope again until Pope John Paul II.

The statue, by Anno Dijkstra, is up on some fancy wooden blocks, but I assume it will be more permanently installed in the future. Or not. I honestly have no idea. (Ok, I wasn’t going to do any research, but I just couldn’t stand not to do some. It seems that the wooden blocks may be permanent. The statue, which was unveiled on Thursday, is made of bronze and was inspired by the portrait of Adrian done by Jan van Scorel.)
Pope Adrian
Pope Adrian
Pope Adrian
Pope Adrian

The Paushuize, Publishing, and Me

My article in Dutch the MagazineDespite my excitement in yesterday’s post about my photo and name appearing in the new book about the Domtoren, I do actually have a background in publishing. In the US, I had my first article — a software game review — published in Compute magazine while I was still in high school. (Although there was a bit of nepotism there, as my dad was one of the editors. But still, it passed muster!) In fact, I ended up following in my dad’s professional footsteps after university and worked for a group of magazines, working my way up from assistant editor to editor-in-chief. So I’ve seen my name in print plenty of times and I’ve even had the cover feature on occasion.

Even with the experience, though, there’s still a thrill to seeing your work published. I regularly write for websites (although my name isn’t always attached), but there’s an extra thrill I get from seeing my name in print on paper. I remember when I first moved to New York and saw one of my articles in a magazine for sale at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. It gave me a real sense of satisfaction.

However, it’s been a while since my name has appeared in physical print next to my writing, so when I recently received my issue of Dutch: The Magazine with my article about the Paushuize and the Netherlands’ only pope, I got to relive that frisson of excitement. I’ve had some of my photos appear in print over the past few years, including one in the previous issue of Dutch, but this is my first full article in a while.My article in Dutch the Magazine

The magazine is published in North America, so if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, you can try some of your area book stores, etc. I’m not sure how widespread the publication is, but it is growing, so you never know. It’s definitely worth looking for, especially since Invader Stu has a new monthly column in the magazine, as well. If you can’t pick up a copy, I really do suggest you plan a visit to Utrecht so you can take one of the guided tours of the Paushuize. There was so much great information about the palace, the pope, and the city that I didn’t have room to include!My article in Dutch the Magazine

Time Travel Through Art

Wall of Utrecht
A few months ago, while looking through Pinterest, I saw a fantastic graphic-style print of Utrecht that I fell in love with instantly. Besides the style of it, I loved the different aspects of the city that were represented. Sadly, when I clicked through, trying to find any information about the artist or where I could buy a copy of it, I came up blank.

Imagine my thrill when I was walking down Domstraat recently, admiring the artwork on display in the windows of Catch, a local art store, and suddenly there it was, the print I had been searching for! The store was closed at the time, but I went in last week to enquire about the print. Pondering a bit more, I ended up going back yesterday and bought it. It’s the large print on the right, in case you hadn’t figured that out. It’s signed and numbered, even! The artist is Utrecht-based Jochem Coenen, and I absolutely love his style that seems to combine traditional and modern illustration so beautifully.

As well as buying the print, I also picked up some frames for some modern and antique prints I’ve been collecting. One is a print from 1857 of one of the early incarnations of the Paushuize. I’ve been writing a lot about the Paushuize recently for various websites and publications, so when I came across the print, I couldn’t resist. The pen and ink drawing of the Domtoren and Oudegracht is one that I picked up recently from another local artist, Ellessi, and the final print is another antique print of Utrecht depicting the bend in the Oudegracht in front of the Stadhuis.
Antique UtrechtIt’s a spot that is still recognizable, although much of it has changed in the past two hundred years or so, well, except for the Domtoren, of course. The Stadhuis (white buildings, center left) was rebuilt in a neo-Classic style around 1830. The crane on the left was originally built in 1402, although it underwent various updates and rebuilds until it finally gave up the ghost in 1837, while trying to unload the large caryatids that form the columns of the Winkel van Sinkel.
I recently came across a painting of roughly the same spot as my print by an Utrecht artist, Georg-Gillis van Haanen (1807-1879).
Nowadays, although many of the buildings have changed, that curve of the old canal, with the Domtoren rising up above the city, remains instantly recognizable. I’m sure even the artists of these images would soon feel at home.
The Agreement

The Paushuize and a Perk

paushuizeThe Paushuize (Pope’s House) has recently begun offering tours every Sunday afternoon. I’m going to be writing about the Paushuize for a website and a magazine, so I decided a good place to start on my research was a tour of the historic building.

Since I was also looking for a contact at the Paushuize to answer various questions I’m sure to have, I arranged my tour through a connection I’ve made at Toerisme Utrecht. If you’re interested in taking the tour, you can reserve a spot through the VVV Utrecht offices (Domplein 9) either in person or by email. Times, cost, and all other information about the guided Paushuize tours can be found here.

If you’re looking for things to do in Utrecht on a Sunday afternoon, I truly do recommend the tour. The curator of the Paushuize tends to be the guide and he does a great job of bringing all of the history to life, adding in humor and lots of interesting facts about the city, as well as the pope. You get fascinating true stories rather than cold dry facts.

As I said, I had arranged my tour through other contacts and thus the curator knew I was interested in learning more about the building. We also discussed a shared interest in various aspects of art history, including my love of architecture. As a result of this, I got a special sneak peak up into the attic of the Paushuize. Finally, a perk to being a writer!

Inherently, I found the old timber roof structure fascinating in its own right, but one of the reasons I got this extra viewing was because of the view from the attic. As the curator pointed out (as I’m American), the view today from one particular spot really wouldn’t have been any different from what it would have been in 1492 (when Columbus sailed the ocean blue).
You all know my love of the Domtoren, the cathedral, and the whole Domplein area, so getting to see it all from this new higher vantage point was truly amazing. I could have stood there forever.

Hopefully, I’ll get a new camera before I have to turn in one of the articles. If I do, I’m sure I’ll need to go back up into the attic area. For research purposes, obviously.

(If you’re curious, the image at the top is an antique print from 1857, depicting the Paushuize before all of the later additions were made. Learning about all the changes made to the building over the centuries was just one of the fascinating elements of the tour.)

Getting a Peek Inside the Pope’s House

Thanks to Twitter, I found out this week that the Paushuize (Pope House) would be open to the public this morning. As a quick refresher, it’s the house built by the only Dutch pope, Adrian VI, although he never got to live in it. As it’s primarily used for conferences and such nowadays, it’s not usually open to the public except for special events. Even though it was only the ground floor that was open today, I knew I had to go.

I’ve written about the Pauishuize (Pope House) before and I recommend giving it a read again, if for no other reason than to laugh at my excitement over the Holy Roman Empire. Plus, there’s a bit of interesting history about Pope Adrian. It turns out he was the last non-Italian pope until Pope John Paul II.

Anyway, here are some photos of the inside. There were only a few rooms open, but they were quite stunning. This room is what we jokingly referred to as the small breakfast nook. Of course, if you’ve seen one coffered-ceiling breakfast nook you’ve seen them all.


There was one section with three rooms leading off each other, reminding me a bit of the shotgun houses in New Orleans. One was a rich red with an impressive fireplace, the next was a soft green, and then the last was black and decorated with numerous paintings of the pope. The wallpapers in all of the rooms were fabric and textured.

I think the green room paid homage to the fact that Louis Bonaparte (Lodewijk Napoleon in Dutch) and his wife Hortense stayed in the house briefly while the residence on Voorstraat was being completed. The couple were the King and Queen of Holland from 1806-1810, having been appointed to the position by Napoleon. There is a bust of her in the green room. If you’re wondering, there were chocolate eggs and bunnies placed in random spots throughout the house.
Paushuize Hortense(?)

There were also some wonderful paintings throughout the house. This next one was amusing, as it seems to depict Utrecht, but with a greater sense of hilliness that you’d expect. Still, the panel on the left does include the Domtoren and looks as if it could be representing the southern end of the city walls near the Sonnenborgh Museum.
Paushuize Unexpected Hills

However, my favorite painting was a representation of the Wittevrouwenpoort, which I’ve also posted about before.
Wittevrouwenpoort (Detail)

Finally, as you enter the door into the courtyard of the property, the first reaction from everyone seems to be, “wow!” Sadly, my photo doesn’t do it justice, but it really was quite stunning, in part because it was so unexpected. It wasn’t just the bitterly cold wind that was taking our breath away!
Paushuize Wow

On the off chance you want to see more, I’ve got a few more photos of the Paushuize in a set on Flickr and I’ll probably go back and add a few more eventually.

Time Travel: Papal Residence

Paushuize 1
It’s been ages since I’ve done one of my Time Travel posts! Why not bring the theme back in a big way, going all the way to the top! This, my dear readers, is the Paushuize, a home built by Adrian VI, the only pope from the Netherlands.

This papal residence was built in 1517, a few years before Adrian VI, AKA Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens, became pope in 1522. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to live in the residence. Still, Adrian was a native of Utrecht, born in 1459, most likely in a house on the corner of Brandsteeg and the Oudegracht. He was of modest means, with his father having worked as a carpenter and shipbuilder. Adrian became a scholar, with Erasmus counted among those who attended his lectures. He also became tutor to the man who would go on to become Emperor Charles V.

This is where my European readers can skip ahead, as I’m about to become giddy in a way that only an American history buff can. You see, for me, the Holy Roman Empire is something from history books, seeming almost mystical, as if coming from a fairy tale. Despite the fact that I’m well aware that the Netherlands as a nation state didn’t really exist until the 1800s — much as Italy, as a nation, didn’t exist until the 1800s either — it’s still kind of thrilling to realize that Utrecht, as the capital of the Bishopric of Utrecht, was a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Squeeee! I live in what used to be the Holy Roman Empire! As I said, I’m American. I’m easily impressed by history.


Anyway, this is where my love of Italian Renaissance history collides with my ever-growing fascination with Utrecht’s history. You see, Adrian became pope after the death of Leo X, the infamous Medici pope. Leo X is one of the few pope’s I remember, specifically because he was a Medici and I learned a great deal about them as I was studying art history. Amusingly, considering the machinations that took place any time one of the ruling families managed to get a family member elevated to the papal position, Adrian seemed determined to try to rule impartially and to rein back on the abuses of the system, including indulgences and matrimonial dispensations. But then, as now, money talks and I don’t think he had much luck.

To bring this post back around to papal residences, it seems that Adrian had never actually visited Rome before being named head honcho of the Catholic church. Sort of like me not having visited the Netherlands before moving here. One of the concerns for every expat is finding somewhere to live when you get to your new land. In this case, despite the lovely house he’d had built here in Utrecht, he was concerned that he’d have nowhere decent to stay in Rome, where he could dispense his papal duties. Fortunately, I think Human Resources managed to sort something out for him.

Pope's House