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.
First is the Gemeenlandshuis – the Water Board House. The Water Board, now the Delfland Water Authority, is responsible for water management in the region. The building dates from 1505 and has functioned as the Water Board House since 1645.
Delft City Hall stands alone in the main square with a renaissance style building from 1618 built onto an older clock tower dating from around 1300. As you can see from these two photographs the weather was changeable.
Some pictures of the Old Church next. Construction of the The Old Church started in 1246 and its massive brick tower was added between 1325 and 1350. If the tower looks a little crooked in the first picture that’s because it is. The foundations were not strong enough to support the weight of the tower above and it started to tilt. The builders managed to stabilise it but it leans around 6 feet off true. Up in the tower is the Trinitas bell, cast in 1570 and weighing in at nearly nine tons. Unfortunately there is no access to the tower for visitors.
The interior of the church has largely retained its Gothic simplicity though there are some beautiful stained glass windows that were created for the church by Dutch artist Joep Nicolas and installed between 1958 and 1972. The floor is paved with tombstones including those marking the graves of Johannes Vermeer and Holland’s naval hero Maarten Tromp.
In the next post I will have some photographs of the New Church with views of the city from the tower. For now, here are a few more general pictures.