Holy Apartment

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There are plenty of jokes about not being able to go far at all without coming across yet another church in Europe. They’re everywhere! Though I grew up in the Southern part of the US which certainly doesn’t have any shortage, either. Yet sometimes there end up more churches than needed. Demand has dropped. So what do you do with these beautiful buildings? In some cases, you turn them into apartments.

St. Martinus, a former Catholic church, was built in 1901 by architect A. Tepe in the Neo-Gothic style. By the 1970s, it was falling into disrepair and it was around 1988 that it was converted into apartments as they stand now.

One side of the building looks out onto a street, but the other side looks out over the Oudegracht. On that side, there’s still a statue of St. Martinus.
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Foto Friday: Anne Frank

Anne Frank
As is so often the case on Sunday mornings, the day after the large flower market in Janskerkhof, the statue of Anne Frank is awash with flowers placed in remembrance. This particular Sunday saw an extra large display.
Anne Frank
Anne Frank

Trijn van Leemput

Trijn van Leemput
In honor of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d do a quick post about Trijn van Leemput. She’s considered a heroine of the 80 Years War against Spain, particularly here in Utrecht. The story revolves around the Vredenburg fortress that the Spanish had built on the western side of town after the Spanish annexed Utrecht in 1528. The Spanish garrison stationed there came under seige by local rebels soon after the start of the 80 Years War in 1576 and by 1577, a negotiation was reached and the fortress was abandoned.

An abandoned fortress wasn’t enough. Utrechters wanted the fortress to be demolished. Unfortunately, the city government disagreed. Not that that would stop the locals. On 2 May, 1577, Trijn van Leemput gathered a group of women, and with a makeshift banner made of a blue apron tied to a broom, they set off to take matters into their own hands. With pick axes and hammers, they began demolishing the brick fortress.

The story may be a mix of fact and fiction. Trijn van Leemput did exist. She and her husband, a brewer and miller, were among the leading families of Utrecht at the time and they had a large house on the Oudegracht. The statue of Trijn in my photos is located on the Zandbrug, a bridge over the Oudegracht near her home. The statue was erected in 1955 and shows her standing atop the Vredenburg fortress, with a pick-axe in one hand and one of the bricks of the demolished fortress in the other. Someday, I may get around to writing more about the remains of the fortress, some of which can be seen in random spots like one of the underground bicycle parking places.
Trijn van Leemput
Trijn van Leemput
Trijn van Leemput

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

Sint Willibrord

willibrord first bishop of utrecht statue at janskerkhofThis statue of St. Willibrord stands at Janskerkhof. Willibrord was a missionary from Northumbria who came to the Netherlands in the late 600s to convert the pagan North Germanic tribes of Frisia. He also took a few trips to Rome to meet with the pope and in 695, he was consecrated as the bishop of the Frisians. He returned to Frisia and kept preaching and building churches, including a monastery here in Utrecht. He also became known as the first Bishop of Utrecht.

Meh. Kind of boring post, I know. But my other work is keeping me busy, as is Charlie, and today’s weather is lousy and uninspiring. The colors also looked nicer before I uploaded the photo to WordPress. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Tour De France 2015 Route Presentation

Today is the grand announcement of the route of the 102nd Tour De France taking place next summer. It’s relevant to Utrecht, because Utrecht is where the race begins next year! We’ve known that for a while, but the official release of the full route was just announced moments ago. I watched part of the presentation on the Cyclingnews.com website, but had to laugh/cringe at the English pronunciation of all of the Utrecht sites (Jaarbeurs, Lepelenburg), but the worst was the name of the city itself. I don’t know who was responsible for the English commentary/translation I was watching, but dear lord, I hope they get that figured out soon. You should at least be able to pronounce the name of the city!

The race kicks off on 4 July, a Saturday, and part of it even goes down Biltstraat, where Vino Veritas is, though I think they turn off before they get to us. There will also be events in town in the days leading up to the start.

For a few months now, a statue of a bicycle representing the Tour de France has been in place on the Stadhuisbrug. I’ve taken ground-level photos in the past, but last month while up on the Neudeflat, I got a few more aerial views of the statue. Someday I may get over the Jaarbeursplein to see the big ground design they in place there. I guess I have until next July. For now, enjoy these shots of the statue on the bridge over the Oudegracht. You’ll notice that the Domtoren, in the background of one, was much too tall to be fully included. Also pay attention to the boat going through the canal in the shots, particularly the shot where you can see the man essentially pushing the boat away from the canal walls to get it through a rather tight bend.
Tour de France Utrecht 2015
Tour de France Utrecht 2015Tour de France Utrecht 2015

Sputnik in Spring

SpoetnikkijkerIt’s been a spectacular weekend weatherwise. Lots of sunshine, warm temps, and general loveliness. Today, we went for a walk around town with plans to stop over at Ledig Erf for drinks in the sun. Of course, I think everyone else had that idea, because free tables outdoors were very hard to come by. We eventually ended up over at the Domplein. Still a pretty good view!

Our walk took us past the Spoetnikkijker, my beloved statue, and I couldn’t resist another photo of him, this time with a field of flowers spread out beneath him. He may not have been taking in the flowers, but he at least had a beautifully clear blue sky to enjoy.
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