I haven’t done one of the Weekly Photo Challenges in a while, but I do have a fondness for windows, which is this week’s theme, so I couldn’t resist. It was an early theme last year, as well, and I did a post about the cathedral’s windows then and I’m doing the cathedral windows again. They’re a regular source of inspiration, thanks to both their Gothic beauty and the light they often catch. They may not feature much stained glass nowadays, but they still glow with the sunlight that courses through them. The cathedral in Utrecht (Netherlands) is known as the Dom or St. Martin’s Cathedral and construction of its current form was begun in 1254. Previous incarnations of the church (first dating back to 630) were destroyed by fire, Normans, and other typical architectural challenges of the time.
The cathedral is the only one of its kind in the Netherlands to closely resemble the classic Gothic architectural style of France. Other Gothic cathedrals in the Netherlands feature more regional variations. In 1566, statues, reliefs, and other interior decorations were destroyed as a result of the Calvinist austerity that was sweeping through the Low Countries at the time. Although originally a Catholic church, it became a Protestant church in 1580.
That wasn’t to be the end of the drama. In 1674, the nave of the cathedral collapses during a massive storm and was never rebuilt. Fortunately, the transept and apse remain and are still in use.
Did you know that giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as humans? I saw that bit of trivia this afternoon and decided today would be a good day to post this picture of what I like to call Warholian Giraffes. This piece of art caught my eye and I couldn’t resist a quick snap. I may end up creating my own elephant or flamingo version at some point.
As for giraffes, they, like us, have seven vertebrae. The difference is that theirs can be as long as 10 inches and they’re more flexible than ours because theirs aren’t connected in the same way. I bet you weren’t expecting to learn giraffe trivia from an Utrecht blog, but after all, Utrecht is known as the city of “kennis en cultuur” (knowledge and culture) and that’s exactly what you get with this post!
I’ve posted before about the random bits of wall art that pop up around the city. However, not all of these bits of creativity are pictorial. There are often simple thoughts expressed in words; some are philosophical, while others simply put a smile on your face.
Sunday morning, I came across the chalked thought above: Forbidden To Forbid. Make of that what you will. There are plenty of interpretations open.
Seeing it reminded me of some window writing I saw on Lange Nieuwstraat. The two windows had simple sentences written on the bottom. If their purpose was to make passers-by smile, they succeeded, at least with me.
This one reads, “Hoe gaat het met jou?”, which is the Dutch way of saying, “How are you?”.
The second window says, “Ik vind jou speciaal”, which means “I find you special/I think you’re special”. You’re not so bad yourself!
I love these random little finds throughout the city. Even if the windows are simply marketing, it’s a nice, creative touch that is positive and friendly. We can all use a bit of that!
As I explained in my previous post, my first thought for this week’s theme was to photograph the Dom cathedral’s wonderful Gothic windows. However, as I was walking down Domstraat toward the cathedral, I passed this art gallery that has been a frequent source of inspiration for me. A window installation of the work of one of their featured artists inspired my own artwork that now hangs in our bedroom. The current exhibit by an artist who does wonderful graphic-style images of Utrecht is another favorite. I love seeing the different parts of the city depicted in this format.
As I walked past the gallery Saturday, I was inspired by one of the paintings. The artist has focused on one section of the Stadhuis, including just the windows and the ubiquitous bicycles. I loved the idea of using this painting of windows, seen through a window, with the reflections of other windows layered over it all. Even better, some of the Gothic windows of the cathedral, which is just a few steps away, are reflected in the gallery’s window.
Additionally, I love how the windows in the painting seem to line up so well with the windows of the building reflected in the gallery window. This collection of windows, all in one window, was too good an opportunity to pass up!
This week’s photo challenge post will probably be a two-parter, because I got so much inspiration today while walking through town. My first thought was to photograph some of the windows at St. Maarten’s Cathedral, the French-Gothic cathedral in the center of Utrecht. Pictured above is the north transept window, with the classic lancet shape and tracery. I liked this shot, in particularly, because of the beautifully colored tree leaves standing between the cathedral and the Domtoren (bell tower).
As I was standing there taking photos of the windows, I decided to also go inside and get a shot of the interior view of that same window. The stained glass isn’t obvious from the outside, but shows up more clearly on the inside.
I thought I’d include the opening paragraph of the Dom Church’s Wikipedia page. I recommend clicking through and reading more about the cathedral’s long and storied history.
St. Martin’s Cathedral, Utrecht, or Dom Church (Dutch: Domkerk) was the cathedral of the diocese of Utrecht during the Middle Ages. Once the Netherland’s largest church, dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, it is one of the country’s two pre-Reformation cathedrals, along with the cathedral in Middleburg, Province of Zeeland. It has been a Protestant church since 1580. The building is the one church in the Netherlands that closely resembles the classic Gothic style as developed in France. All other Gothic churches in the Netherlands belong to one of the many regional variants. Unlike most of its French predecessors, the Dom Church has only one tower, the 112 m (368 ft) high Dom Tower, which is the hallmark of the city.
Finally, here’s a photo of some more of the windows and Gothic decoration around the apse end of the cathedral, including the typical trefoil and quatrefoil tracery of the windows. Gothic architecture was my gateway into falling in love with architecture in general, so I particularly enjoy having a fascinating example of it within easy walking distance.