Local Heart, Global Soul

April 9, 2013

The Dom: Tall, Strong and Beautiful…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Utrecht — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 8, 2013

Upper Streets and Views … So Much to See…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Utrecht — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Still on my retroactive photo tour of Utrecht,  of a trip I made there a few years ago: we have finished the boat tour and  are busy walking around the central city area.

My New Zealand cousin and his family are fascinated by the cobbled streets, little shops in narrow street, old leaning buildings, statues and view of the Gracht and “street” or quays below from above.

During our walk we discover a sort of tunnel… these were alternative routes from the quays below to the street above and were made for haulage of really heavy goods like barrels and fuel.

I’ve blanked out distinguishing details to preserve our privacy in several photos to give you an idea of the size of the tunnel and of the lean of some of the buildings as my cousin playfully tries to push one corner shop upright again.

One shop sports a Royal Warrant… I forgot to photograph what short of shop to remind myself what the warrant was for however…

Naturally there are the ever present bicycles…  but Utrecht, like many Dutch cities is most definitely a walking city… bring a camera  with spare batteries and plenty of memory cards because there are more views to capture than you could possibly manage in a day and a pair of comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend many a happy hour exploring!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The tunnel  we’ve just emerged from… looking back from quayside…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 7, 2013

The Butcher, The Baker, and The…. ???

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Utrecht — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

These photos are from my archive stash and were taken when my cousin and his family visited The Netherlands a few years ago.

We have been on a boat  and are about to leave our tour of central Utrecht, but all during the trip I have been taking photos of stone markers that stand under lampposts  next to bridges.

We were  told that these are “signposts” in stone that would have directed the often illiterate boatmen to the correct area of the city where their goods, services or merchandise  were destined to be delivered…

…little figures of tailors for the cloth-makers and tailoring sector, people putting items into the oven for the bakers section of town, (what is the person doing on the other side of the baker though? Could they be stamping up and down in some way to drive air into the oven and make it hot? …or some other sort of task?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One stone set of figures shows a man with his hand on the breast of a woman. No prizes for guessing this must be or have been, the red light district.

Some of the pictures depict less obvious trades, so I edited the photos to get a bigger image of the stonework and if you’d like to hazard a guess to the occupation or event that took place here then feel free to drop your ideas into the comment box.

I took a map of the Utrecht city center and tried to figure out of any of the nearby street names could provide any interesting clues.

The clearly translatable ones are :  “zuilenstraat” = column street, “haverstraat“= oat street, “zadelstraat” = saddle street, “lijnmarkt“= line market (probably rope), “ boterstraat” = butter street,  ” ganzenmarkt“= goose market, “lauwersteeg” = laurel street,  “hamsteeg“= ham alley and  “varkenmarkt” = pig  market.

Other interesting street names around the Gracht are:   “zakkendragersteeg” = porter alley (the word “zakkendrager”  translates very literally as sack carrier and is especially associated with big bags being unloaded from ship onto wharves, so maybe ‘stevedore” would be better than just ‘porter’?), “Jacobijenstraat” = Jacobean street,  “waterstraat“= waterstreet and “Jodenrijtje“= Jewish row, “steenweg“=  paved road, ” korte snee straat” = short cut road.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Rather than depicting witches, I think the next one is for broom makers…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

17 may 24 (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A horse and cart, depicting …?  (the green plant is a co-incidental addition as it appears from a close up look on the larger photo that some opportunist plants have sprouted up in some damp/ cracked sections of the wall…)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Any ideas about what the next one depicts would be most welcome…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Poultry market…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The pig market… … or Ham Street…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This one is a mystery… looks to me like someone tipping water out of a wooden bucket… but is that an infant falling out of it?  The phrase “don’t tip the baby out with the bathwater” springs to mind… but why would you need a signpost for this? … and what else could it be?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The cattle market…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A moon and a sun…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This one is perfectly clear… good beer can be found close to here…!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 6, 2013

Big Houses, Cramped Houses and Feathered Homes in the Smallest of Nooks and Crannies…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Utrecht — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m taking you on a retroactive tour of Utrecht’s canals… we did this trip with one of my New Zealand cousins and his family a few years back and it’s taken me until now to sort through the photos and tell you about our adventures . We’ve left the inner city canals with their distinctive upper and lower “streets/ quays”  behind, and have now branched out to where the smaller waterways join larger ones.

The houses around the canals here are generally far bigger, the exception being the smaller rows of alms houses built by the rich for the poor, widows and the like (first two photographs).

They sit in the shadow of their rich owner dwellings, small in comparison and first I thought “nice to get a house if you were poor and in desperate need”…  except it wasn’t actually a house the poor would get… it was just one single room and no matter how big the family of the widow or poor person was, all had to be squeezed into their one room.

I supposed that in the centuries before welfare benefits and social housing, these cramped conditions would have been most welcome since the alternative would have been the street… but all the same,  it can’t have been comfortable or easy living for people who were already at the bottom of the heap.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just a low and unassuming bridge marks the junction of “Nieuwegracht” (New Canal) and “Oudegracht” (Old Canal), much of the New Canal having been dug by hand.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s a lock that marks the main waterway connection with Amsterdam, as well as many smaller waterways that connect to various nearby districts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This bridge is  called ” The Ladies Bridge”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in the city centre, we learn that a large building on the upper street level is the ancient  “Kastel Utrecht” (Castle Utrecht)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A multitude of bird-life inhabit the canals too, we saw many riverbank nests on the more open and grassy parts of the canal, but also a next of chicks tucked neatly into a crevice deep under a bridge, and a crow who was being a tad fussy about the position he needed to be in, in order to drink from one of the rain water drainage pipes that  empty water from the street above, into the canal below.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Everything we saw from the water gave us a new perspective of how the water transport system used to work here, and since we also learned that some of the larger refuse collections are still made using barges on the canals,  evidence that the water transport system is still effective indeed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 5, 2013

Crypt-ic Brewing and Other Peculiarities…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Utrecht — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are browsing though a post I have made using my achieve photos of a trip Family Kiwidutch made with the family of one of my cousins, visiting us from New Zealand a few years ago.

In yesterdays post I mentioned that in centuries gone by, the bad state of many roads meant that canals were a faster and easier mode of travel and that the haulage of goods, ingredients and livestock were usually done on the waterways.

For ease of transport  most breweries in the Netherlands were located on canalside and here is no exception, although we did also learn on our boat tour of Utrecht that the beer from the brewery shown in the first photograph supposedly had a rather “ peculiar” taste because they also used the canal water in the beer.

Since the waterways were also the dumping ground for anything and everything (mentionable and unmentionable) I hope that the alcohol in that beer was strong enough to kill off the certain nasties it must surely have contained.

Since this brewery managed to stay in business for hundreds of years, they obviously didn’t kill their customers with the beer… or maybe they did but it happened so slowly that people didn’t suspect the cause? … or is it simply that people  back then had cast iron constitutions?

We pass one spot of the “lower street” with not just a large wooden sculpture out the front but also a rather strange looking angel suspended from the tree…  This we are told is a sign that tells people that the crypts of wealthy people are located in the spaces behind.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A little further along we branch away from the smaller inner canals  where the “lower street”  idea is no longer present  but the warehouses and cellars still are, this time with doors directly on the canal front.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

These little canals in turn branch into the broader ones that were effectively the early motorways of the city. A large wall and a gate  mark the ancient toll entrance  into Utrecht.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We also pass a sturdy looking jetty that is the docking point for  boats taking visitors to the nationally known Railway Museum a short distance away…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We boat  and  people watch: other tourists passing by in a similar tour boat to ours, to locals messing around with their craft and pets on the water’s edge.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There is a large building  that dates from the 1700’s,  it started life as an orphanage then became a  home for the elderly and has now been converted into apartments.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Some photos just take my fancy: bridges, squeezing under bridges, houses and views from the water…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 4, 2013

You Take The Low Road and I’ll Take The … ….Lower (Canal) Road!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Utrecht — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuance of yesterdays post, our train journey has bought us to the city of Utrecht. We had booked a boat trip for our two families on one of the canal tour boats and needed to find the place where the boat will be moored. Luckily the distance from the station is relatively short and we find it without problem.

The reason we have bought them to Utrecht is because these canals are unlike most other canals in Dutch cities. Basically the Gracht (canal) runs though the city centre, nothing new or different about that, but it’s like there are streets beneath streets here… what you might call the lower street runs along the canal and is lined with wharfs,  warehouses and commercial cellars… and then above those are the regular streets above, with  the usual things you’d expect to see: shops, houses etc.

In centuries past the canal was the main mode of transport, everything:  building materials, industrial goods, food, cloth, livestock and beer were delivered by boat, since the dirt or cobbled roads were narrow and congested.

These days some of the cellars and warehouses have been converted into artisan workshops, restaurants, cafés,  boutiques  and have found more fashionable and up to date uses than just storage of commercial goods. Even the space under some of the bridges has been used… one of them was the local jail… looking dark, damp and cramped, I hope it acted as a deterrent for some would-be criminals. A more recent, World War II addition to another bridge is a German bunker.

In a few spots there are some wide steps that lead up to the upper street level. We learn that the particular one in my photo are 34 such steps dating from the 1600’s that could be used to get water quickly from the canal to the upper street above whenever there was a fire:  no hoses or pumps or course, just a bucket line and a lot of frantic work.

Let’s take a closer look at this unusual configuration of upper and lower streets…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

17 may 38 (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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