This week’s photo challenge theme is spring in all of its many glories and charms. For me, spring is the return of walks around the city, admiring all the little nooks and crannies that come alive with greenery and blooms, both wild and intentional. Crocuses, tulips, and daffodils spring up in abstract masses in almost every grassy area surrounding the old city center.
On a recent walk, I was blown away by the profuse greenery surrounding the Lievendaal villa. The shade of the trees, the intensity of the green, and the pops of blue from tiny flowers turned this little corner into a verdant wonderland that doesn’t seem like it will truly be contained by the wrought-iron fence.
The other week, as part of the national Museum Weekend, we finally went to visit the Museum Catharijneconvent. From the museum’s website: “Originally built in the 16th century as a monastery for members of the Order of the Knights of St. John, it was named after Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The monastery’s infirmary eventually became Utrecht’s first teaching hospital while the Catharijneconvent was subsequently used for a wide variety of purposes.” It wasn’t until 1979 that it eventually became a museum, officially opened by Queen Juliana. The museum contains historical and art-historical exhibits, with pieces ranging from reliquaries to clothing to works of art dating from the medieval period to contemporary art. In fact, some of the contemporary pieces were quite impressive on their own.
I didn’t take photos inside, so all I’ve got are photos of the various parts of the interior of the convent grounds, which are quite beautiful and interesting on their own. If you enjoy religious art and can read Dutch, the actual museum is worth a visit. The information that goes with each piece is only in Dutch, so keep that in mind. If you’re interested from an art-historical perspective, rather than a purely religious perspective, it may seem to lack detail and information on the artistic aspect of the pieces. The information given tends to be specifically about the religious story/history being depicted. It’s still interesting and worth a visit, but if nothing else, I recommend a visit just to look around the central quad to admire the buildings, garden, and the general layout. All of that is open for view and doesn’t require a ticket. They also have an indoor/outdoor café, which might be a nice place to stop on a lovely spring/summer day.
In the meantime, here are somemany of the photos I took of the grounds. They maintain the older structures beautifully, but I like the way they add in some of the necessary modern additions, including the glass walkway. It serves a purpose, while not completely blocking the view of the old buildings.
Spring may well be over, based on the weather today and the forecast for the next few days. But at least I got to enjoy a tiny bit of the beautiful spring weather we had last weekend. As I walked past Lepelenburg Park last Sunday, I saw this ice cream van pull up beneath the tree. I loved the bright pop of red beneath the soft green tree against the beautiful blue sky. I was also very tempted to stop for an ice cream, but figured I’d be good, especially since I was planning on going to sit on a terrace and enjoy a beer or two later!
I’ve got a Caturday post for you tomorrow, so stop by if you want to see a cute cat.
And because I can’t look at this photo without thinking of Tom Waits’ song, Ice Cream Man, here you go:
Wait! I’m going to add some words after all. It turns out that today is Boomfeestdag, which no, is not a day celebrating explosions. Boom means tree, and today is a day when many new trees get planted at various locations. Utrecht’s Griftpark has been the recipient of new trees for the past few years, including this year. It’s a national, annual event, and fortunately, we’ve got perfect weather for it today. So, happy tree day!
Last weekend while taking a walk along the Maliesingel, we got to the part where many of the houses have front gardens of one sort or another. This is rare here in the old city center, since most houses open straight onto the sidewalk. I was particularly taken by the abundance of flora in front of this house, particularly the the different shades of purple in the flowers and the leaves of the tree (which may look a bit more blue in this photo).
Here’s a close-up of the flowers. They remind me a bit of dogwood blossoms. Do any of my florally literate readers know the name of either the flowers or the purple-ish tree?
On the first day of 2011, I took this photo of the imposing sky and the silhouette of the Domtoren.
The sun was shining, but there were still clouds and an overall heaviness to the sky. It was stunning, in its own way. This is actually a color photo, too.
Today, I took a photo of roughly the same spot, just a slightly different angle — and a drastic change in the sky and colors! Spring is definitely in the air!
I love this little corner of the Wittevrouwenkade/straat. During the summer, the lion holding the Utrecht city shield almost disappears from view behind the leaf-filled branches, but during this time of year, he’s visible with just the hint of leaves to come. The diagonals of red and white are the flag/coat of arms of Utrecht the City (the province flag has the same colors but differs in design). Here’s the story behind the colors and design:
According to the legend St. Martin gave the half of his red soldiers coat to an almost naked beggar. The beggar asked for an alms, but Martinus did not have any money and he was not allowed to give his complete coat. That is why he took his sword and cut his coat in two parts. At night he had a special dream. The beggar with the half of his red coat appeared to him and he was told that he had shared his coat with Jesus himself.
The coat of arms and the flag of the city of Utrecht demonstrate the story of the coat’s partition. The red part is the coat, the white part is the undergarment of St. Martin. The official banner in the city hall of Utrecht shows us the red/white division. (Source: stmaartenstadutrecht).