Time Travel: Achter de Dom

1900 postal workers achter de dom utrecht post office(photo via Het Utrechts Archief)

This photo dates back to 1900 and shows a group of postal workers on the street behind the cathedral called Achter de Dom (achter means behind and de Dom refers to the cathedral). To the right of them is the entrance to the pandhof, the enclosed garden area next to cathedral. To the left was the post office.

Achter de Dom is one of my favorite streets, because it’s filled with historic buildings and just looks so picturesque and charming. Coming to the street from the opposite direction — from the Nieuwegracht — it’s particularly stunning as you see the apse of the cathedral towering over the street. No matter the angle from which you look at it, it’s a winner.
Achter de DomI couldn’t remember the exact angle of the original photo, so when I made this version on Sunday, I didn’t get it quite right, but close enough. Not much has changed, obviously. The men in the photo would have been standing roughly where the woman in the white top on the right is.
Achter de Dom
This is the same photo, but from a wider angle, so you can see the cathedral and its buttresses around the apse on the right. The large greyish building on the center left of the photo is the former post office. It was still in use for another 24 years after the 1900 photo was taken. Then, it was replaced by the massive and stunning building at Neude. Sadly, the post office at Neude closed in 2011 and its final use remains in limbo. In fact, it was the very last post office in the Netherlands. Everything now is privatized. Strange to think that the mail service has changed more than this street in the past 115 years, though mail delivery by bike is still a thing. Of course.

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.
Oudegracht
I recently came across a painting of roughly the same spot as my print by an Utrecht artist, Georg-Gillis van Haanen (1807-1879).
georgGillis
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.
Stadhuisbrug
The Agreement

Time Travel: Ganzenmarkt

Ganzenmarkt Then
The other week, while attending the Lekker Utregs festival highlighting local produce, I was happy to see an exhibit set up showing old photos of past Utrechters buying and selling various produce. The exhibit was a collection of photos from Het Utrechts Archief, such as the one posted here. The photo shows fruit sellers at the Ganzenmarkt in 1890.

I found it interesting to see, since I haven’t seen any markets in that area since moving here, yet it was obvious from the name that there were once markets of some sort. In doing a bit of research, it looks like there was also a poultry market at some point. Unfortunately, I don’t know when they stopped setting up markets in this area, though.

Today, the newer construction of the Stadhuis replaces some of the older buildings seen on the left. Some of the buildings on the right remain the same, while a few have at least had a facelift, starting around Theater Kikker, although the corner building seems to have maintained it corner entrance. Now, though, it’s bikes, rather than stalls and horse-drawn carts, that fill the area.
Ganzenmarkt Now
Action ShotIt is believed that the Oudegracht, which lies at the end of the Ganzenmarkt, follows part of the original flow of the Rhine River. In fact, part of it may have originally run along what is now the Ganzenmarkt. Eventually, the flow was altered, replacing water with land. Since the Middle Ages, the Ganzemarkt has been the site of various important buildings, such as the Stadskasteel Compostel (Compostela town castle), and of course, the city hall square which runs along the street now.

Although not clearly visible in the old photo, in the newer photos, you can see the tunnel that runs from the street level down to the wharf level of the Oudegracht. The canal was used for transporting goods, so the tunnel, and a crane that stood at the end of the tunnel, helped move goods from ships to land. This tunnel is also the site of one of my favourite Trajectum Lumen installations, the rainbow-coloured tunnel.
GanzenmarktAs often as I’ve walked along the Ganzenmarkt (which runs from the Oudegracht to Minrebroederstraat), I never really contemplated the history of the spot. Thanks to the old photo of the fruit market, I’ve learned a tiny bit more about the city.