Before I flip this archive page of my diary and my Kiwi Cousins and I leave the city of Utrecht, we have a last look around the central city.
We are captivated by the activity on the water below us, and by various views of the Dom tower… the tallest church tower in The Netherlands.
I first visited Utrecht way back in 1988 whilst on holiday with family. Other family members who lived in Utrecht at the time told us all about the story behind the tower. Their version differs slightly from other texts I’ve read since and goes like this:
The church was built in stages, starting in the 14th Century with the massive tower, built as a symbol of power and with the first rush of enthusiasm and funding.
The main body of the church was started at the far end, with the intention of building the nave last as the connecting section between the two.
The tower alone took sixty years to build and as with building projects centuries over, was running way over time and over budget.
With funds to finish the church becoming increasingly difficult to find, they built the nave of inferior quality materials, which managed to stay standing for 300 years until a freak storm hit the church in the 1670’s and the weaker nave section collapsed.
Our family historians then told me that the rubble was left for a hundred years before being cleared away and that it was decided not to rebuild the nave but to leave the remaining part of the church and the tower simply as two separate pieces, which they still are today.
This story differs because they say there was a nave, built and then collapsed whilst other versions of the story say that the church was never finished. Since I can’t step back in time to the 1670’s to check what was or wasn’t constructed, I’m unable to verify exactly which of these accounts is the more accurate and my small allotment of time is more than used up trying to chase up more local history in The Hague.
What remains as truth is the simple fact the Dom tower is a stunning building, (even all these years later I remember photographing some very impressive gargoyles when I went up it). The tower is an imposing sight that can be glimpsed from various angles around the city and it’s not hard to be captivated by the stunning architecture … a structure that was intended to exude strength, beauty and power to all who saw it centuries ago, … and still does today.