Time Travel: Voetiusstraat


I thought I’d try to get at least one last Time Travel post in, even though I really should be writing for work, or packing, or doing dishes. I don’t even have a really good comparison photo, but it’s close enough.

What you see in the older photo is a view of a couple around 1900 walking along the north side of the cathedral, along what is Voetiusstraat. It’s a strange view if you’re used to the street now, because while the buildings on the right hand side of the photo remain (the one with the writing is now the delicious Carla’s Condoterie), the left has changed dramatically. I think it was around 1910 that the street was widened and the buildings on the left were constructed, particularly Voetiusstraat 2-4, which is a fairly impressive building done in the neo-Renaissance style. It was used as a public reading hall/library.

For the record, the street gets its name from Gisbertus Voetius, a 17th century professor of theology, whose house once stood there.

What is interesting about this section of street where Domstraat intersects with Voetiusstraat and the cathedral is the new herringbone brickwork that has gone down. It’s all more even and in an earthier, tawnier color. It really does look quite nice. I wish I knew how far it’s going to spread.


In this slightly different view, you can’t see the buildings as clearly, but you can see the step into the cathedral that is visible in the old photo. The street levels do change a bit over the years, but the lamps remain much the same!
North Side


black and white photo via Het Utrechts Archief


Time Travel: Pieterskerkhof and the Domtoren

domtoren seen from pieterskerkhof 1925 HUA creditThe browser tab cleanup continues …
This image (photo via Het Utrechts Archief) of Pieterskerkhof, with the Domtoren in the background, is from 1925. This is a stretch that really hasn’t changed much at all. That’s Pieterskerk (St. Peter’s Church), the brick building on the far left and the only thing that has changed slightly is the entrance, which seems to have grown a story and added a window. (It’s the bit right next to the white/grey building.)

The lamps have changed, there are a lot more bicycles, and a few trees have changed places, but otherwise, it’s instantly recognizable. Trust me, even the buildings in the background are the same.

I used to joke in the US about how certain streets were what I called “church row”, with seemingly a church on every street corner. This takes the cake, though. As I said, that’s a church there on the left and then not much further on, you can see the top of the cathedral and the Domtoren. I’m lousy at distances, but according to Google maps, it’s a walking distance of 230 meters/250 yards. They say it’s a three minute walk, but that seems awfully slow to me. Of course, if you stop to admire the local cats and the beautiful buildings, it will take a lot longer than three minutes.

Always the DomPieterskerkhof is definitely worth a visit if you’re visiting Utrecht or newly arrived. It’s a surprising cul de sac with a fascinating mix of old and new buildings and some great rooftop views. And when the sun filters through the trees, the charm level goes through the roof.
Summer Light

Time Travel: Janskerkhof and Bikes

janskerkhofhua(photo via Het Utrechts Archief)
This photo from 1959 shows the Janskerkhof during one of the weekly Saturday flower markets. That aspect hasn’t changed at all and it’s a stunningly beautiful spot to hold a flower market. In the shadow of the church and the trees throughout the square, the flowers in the market are just gilding on this historic space.

I love the hustle and bustle and bursts of color that fill the space on Saturdays, but I also love the serenity of the area on a quiet Sunday morning, when the only remains of the market are a few fallen flower petals and a new bouquet at the feet of the Anne Frank statue in front of the church. My present-day photos were taken on one of these quiet Sunday mornings. To be honest, I was interested in the row of bikes and the scooter that day. I only saw the old photo of the spot recently and knew I already had a comparison photo.
Janskerkof Fietsen
The area today looks much as it does in that photo from 1959, though they’ve gotten rid of most car parking in the square in recent years, though you will see the odd scooter. Even the lamp and bicycles look much the same, though the bikes now face the other direction to allow for a separated bicycle lane. Today, you’re just as likely to see people walking away with the same bouquets of flowers as cycling away, with flowers in hand, under the arm, or in bags or baskets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone leaving the market with a small potted tree strapped upright onto the back of their bicycle.
Janskerkof Fietsen
Janskerkof Fietsen

Time Travel: Driftbrug

Photo via Het Utrechts Archiefphoto via Het Utrechts Archief

This is just a quick post to show a bit of then and now and how little has changed in 100 years. This is a view of the Driftbrug, a bridge over the Drift canal. To the right, the street become Wittevrouwenstraat and to the left it becomes Voorstraat. Today, a number of the Utrecht University buildings line the street along the canal where the photo was taken, while expensive homes and various businesses line the canal in the distance. At that point, the canal becomes known as the Plompetorengracht.

Although the buildings have changed purpose since this photo was taken in 1908, the majority of them have remained roughly the same. That said, one of the unseen buildings on the left has changed quite a bit, as have the stairs leading down to the canal. It’s all a bit more crowded with signs, traffic lights, and of course, lots and lots of bikes, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see what it was like just over 100 years ago.

Time Travel: St. Augustine’s on the Oudegracht

Zigeunerin, Oudegracht, Utrecht, Sebastiaan Alphonse Van Besten, 1915

Zigeunerin, Oudegracht, Utrecht, Sebastiaan Alphonse Van Besten, 1915, Rijksmuseum

I originally came across this photo on Pinterest and it caught my eye for multiple reasons. Obviously, unlike many of the old photos I usually use for these Then and Now posts, this one focuses more on an individual than a building or setting. The woman, a gypsy (zigeunerin), is the main subject of the image taken by Belgian autochromist Sebastiaan Alphonse van Besten. Van Besten was a refugee here in the Netherlands during World War I and took photos in various cities throughout the country, including this fantastic photo here in Utrecht. This particularly image now hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I look forward to seeing it in person soon.

There are still gypies/travellers/roma, etc. in Utrecht and the Netherlands in general, but not quite so obvious now. However, the setting is barely changed. She stands just to the side of a set of stairs that lead down to the wharves along the Oudegracht and the St. Augustine Church in the background remains seemingly unchanged. Even the handrails of the stairs seem almost the same. Now, though, there are more parking signs and bicycles along the railing. In fact, if it weren’t for the bicycles, I could have stood in almost the exact spot to get my “now” photo.
St. Augustine'sFYI, the photo I posted for my last Wordless Wednesday was taken almost directly underneath this spot, down on the wharf level.

Mussels and Time Travel

lucasbolwerk1992(photo via Het Utrechts Archief)

This isn’t quite the usual Time Travel post that I usually do. Despite appearances, this photo of Lucasbolwerk (left) and surrounding streets only dates back to 1992. Overall, the street and buildings haven’t changed that much in the past 20 years; it’s the sidewalk bits that have migrated a bit and that tree on the front left isn’t there now.

To be honest though, the street didn’t look much different 100 years before that, either.
lucasbolwerk1890(photo via Het Utrechts Archief)

That was then, this is now (well, the photos are from 2011 anyway):
Mosselfestival Site

Today, it’s still an active street, although there is very little auto traffic, since it’s now a dead-end street and there are only a few parking spaces. There’s plenty of bicycle traffic, though, and this is the street where the weekly Friday skate night begins in the summer. It is also the location of the annual Mosselfestival.

In fact, the Utrechts Mosselfestival takes place this Sunday, 25 August, from 14-22:00. There will be delicious mussels, of course, and most likely some oysters, as well. Plus, local brewery De Leckere will be on hand, along with some local wine merchants. The event is hosted by Horeca Lucas Bolwerk, which is made up of Café de Potdeksel, Café de Stad, Tilt, and Zocher. They’ll all be open, as well, so feel free to stop by and enjoy their offerings and terraces. In fact, bring the whole family; there’s even a bouncy castle (springkussen) for the kids. Most importantly, try the mussels. They’re cooked in a traditional Zeeland manner and are heel lekker!

Time Travel: Voorstraat

(photo courtesy gertvr on Flickr)

Voorstraat is one of those streets that you can’t help but spend a lot of time on if you live in the north/eastern part of the city center. It’s got a variety of stores and services, and is an easy way to get from one part of town to another, since it ends up at Neude square, which can then take you to numerous other spots.

Here’s what it looks like now:
If you look at the buildings themselves, they really haven’t changed much, although the ground level businesses have changed. The biggest difference is the front left corner. The old building has been replaced by the City Movie Theater.
City Animation

The only other difference, outside of the absence of tram tracks and the appearance of cars is the church steeple in the far distance. In the old photo, it’s simple rectangular. In the new photo, there’s a pointed steeple on top. What I can’t tell is if the steeple was simple under repair or if it hadn’t been added yet. Not knowing when the old photo was taken, I must say it looks more as if the steeple is simply covered in protective scaffolding.

I’m sure Voorstraat was probably just as useful last century as it is now. Nowadays, besides being home to two grocery stores, Plus and Albert Heijn, it’s also home to Plato Record Store, Tattoo Magic Store, travel agency offices, a Chinese massage/reflexology sort of place, hairdressers, a sewing supplies shop, multiple coffee shops (of the cannabis variety), Taco Mundo, multiple vintage clothing stores, along with higher-end clothing stores, a used/antique book store, a florist, an organic grocer, formal wear shops, clothing repair stores, a shoe repair shop, a locksmith, fancy furniture and lighting stores, along with numerous restaurants and cafés, with many new places opening regularly. It’s not always the prettiest street, but for daily life, it covers a lot of bases. And there are pockets of grace and whimsy along the street.
Street Scene

Sushi and Books

There’s even the occasional horse.

And don’t forget the rabbit!
The Thinker

Time Travel: Mariahoek

I’m afraid I don’t know much about this spot. I haven’t found any info so far in my Google quest. Still, it’s a lovely little garden oasis in the center of the city, just off some of the busy shopping streets like Steenweg. I was here late last year and got some lovely photos, but none from the same direction as the old post card, so we went back today on our long walk with Pippo and I tried to get a matching shot.
The buildings don’t seem to have changed much, but the trees have, which meant that if I wanted the church towers in the background, I had to stand more to the right, because otherwise the tree in the center blocked much of the view. Still, other parts are recognizable, including the small ironwork balcony on the building to the right, and the rooftops of the building further back on the right. Here’s a shot I took last October of that ironwork balcony. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans.
Shades of New Orleans

I didn’t really find any information about this corner of town, but I did inadvertently find out about the rooster sculpture that stands in the gardens. I had noticed it last year, but I got a better shot of it this year. It’s called Haan (Rooster) and is by an Italian sculptor named Luciano Minguzzi. I think the sculpture was placed in the garden area in 1957, although the gardens were a bit less lush then. The sculpture itself seems to have been created in 1955 for an international exhibit of sculpture in Arnhem at Sonsbeek Park.
The sculpture now sits further back in the gardens. If you look at the garbage can on the left and then look behind that, you can just make the sculpture out over the shrubbery and in front of the lamp.
Mariahoek Gardens

Time Travel: St. Aloysiuskerk

St. Aloysiuskerk 1958
(photo courtesy of gertvr)
One more Time Travel post, since I saw this one in the collection yesterday and remembered that I already have a picture of this church. It’s St. Aloysiuskerk (kerk=church), located just to the southeast of Wilhelmina Park and down the street from a Rietveld building. I don’t have any photos of it taken from the same direction, but the ones I have were taken from the left side of the one in the old postcard.
St. Aloyisiuskerk
The Catholic church was built in 1924 by architect H.W. Valk. It is a six-sided church with a central plan and features a 24-meter-high dome. It is still in use today and they will be having special services this weekend in honor of the Pinkster holidays.

Aloysius Dome
Little Red Door

Slight Shift in the Weather

On the first day of 2011, I took this photo of the imposing sky and the silhouette of the Domtoren.
Spectacular 1.365
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!
Spring Sunlight