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 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.