Olli Thomson

Category: Netherlands

Nieuw Kerke, Delft

The first stones of the New Church were laid in 1393 but the structure was only finished in 1496 with the completion of the original tower. The current tower dates from 1872, the original and a second tower both having been lost to lighting strikes. This current tower at more than 350 feet is the second tallest in the Netherlands. Outside the church is a statue of Hugo De Groot, also known as Hugo Grotius, who is buried within.

As with the other churches I visited in Delft and Haarlem the interior space of this church is restrained, even austere. All of these churches were taken over by Protestants following the Reformation and the subsequent Beeldenstorm – the iconoclastic fury – stripped many of them of icons, statuary and art works. Not being a great enthusiast for religious ‘bling’ I prefer this very minimalist form. Here are some interior shots.

The church tower is open to visitors and it is possible to climb to three outdoor viewing levels, via a very narrow and tightly winding staircase. 376 steps will take you to the highest level at around 280 feet. The platform is extremely narrow and the surrounding wall is probably not much more than about four feet tall so if you don’t like heights this is definitely not for you.

Here are a few pictures, mostly taken from the highest level.

Finally, here are a couple of shots looking straight down. The first is from the lowest platform while the second is taken from the highest platform and in it you can see visitors on the middle platform. The structure between where they are and where I am is the clock which will give you an idea of where the high platform is if you look back at the picture of the tower at the start of this post.


On my recent visit to the Netherlands I spent a day in the city of Delft, around 55 minutes south of Amsterdam by train. The city gave its name to Defltware pottery and at its peak in the 17th century there were over thirty factories in the city making Delftware. Today only one remains, Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, though it has been in business since 1653.

Delft also has a long association with the Dutch monarchy. William of Orange, who led the Dutch in the Eighty Years War against Spain, was buried in the New Church in Delft where he lies in an elaborate mausoleum. Many of his descendants are also buried in the church’s crypt.

Johannes Vermeer was a Delft native, just the best known of many artists of the Dutch Golden Age associated with the city. He is buried in Delft’s Old Church. Delft’s other famous son was Hugo De Groot, also known as Hugo Grotius, reformer, philosopher and jurist and viewed as the father of international law. His statue stands in the main square and he is buried in the New Church.

Here are some pictures.

Grote Kerk, Haarlem

The Grote Kerk also known as Sint-Bavokerk stands in the Grote Markt in Haarlem dominating the square and the city. The present church was built between 1370 and 1538 though there were churches on the site before this. The entire floor of the church is made up of gravestones, around 1,500 of them with the oldest dating back to the fifteenth century. The most famous is that of Frans Hals who lived and worked in Haarlem. Other famous artists buried in the church include Jacob van Ruisdael and Jan Molenaer.


No, that’s not a spelling mistake. Last week I was in the Netherlands visiting friends and spent a day in the city of Haarlem, just outside Amsterdam. Unfortunately the weather was mostly cold and wet while I was there and I wasn’t able to do as much photography as I had hoped, On the day I visited Haarlem it was at least dry with some sunshine, though there was also a bitingly cold wind blowing. Here are a few pictures.


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