Local Heart, Global Soul

May 22, 2011

Plein 1813 …is also a Place in History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another dig into my archive files from last summer… this time I combine History with amazing craftsmanship…

If you wanted to go directly from the very centre of the Hague out to the beach then the route you you want to take goes down a relatively short, but very busy street called the Alexanderstraat.

(Ok the rest of the stretch of this same stretch of  road has other names such as Parkstraat, Kneuterdijk and Buitenhof,  true to dutch tradition of changing the street at every turn or large intersection, but it is the Alexanderstraat section of the road that we are interested in today.)

Long long before automobiles were invented, the city Father’s plonked a very large memorial in the middle of a very large Plein, called simply “Plein 1813”.

(a Plein in English would be called a “Square”, but a  Dutch Plein never actually has to be square in shape, many of them being in fact round, but how can I call it a “round” without totally confusing people? )

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In due course the horses that would have detoured around this oval shaped Plein transformed into horses of the motorised kind and this place, by default became one of the cities few roundabouts.

History of the city tells us that on November 19th 1813  Jacob baron Fagel set sail in a “pink”  ( fron the Dutch “pincke” a small  flat-bottomed, narrow sterned boat)  from the sea-side town of Scheveningen. Probably in secret,  his mission was to report to The Prince of Orange in England about the state of the Nation at home.

On the 30th of November 1813 the Prince of Orange returns to Dutch soil and lands in Scheveningen. It was said, that in this spot it was possible to see the Prince approaching the city of The Hague.

At the time, this spot on the Alexanderstraat represented the very outer edge of the city limits, and is close to the famous “Scheveningseweg” which both then and today is the ancient and historic road connection between the Hague and  Scheveningen.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This monument commemorates the Dutch victory over Napoleonic occupation that heralded the foundation of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in 1813 and it’s subsequent independence.

King Willem III laid the first stone on the 17th November 1863 and Prince Frederik of The Netherlands dedicated it on the 17th November 1869 when it was completed.

The overall design was the work of architect Willem Cornelius van der Wayen Pieterszen, but it also features the work of Belgian sculptor brothers, Jacques and Joseth Jaquet, who are responsible for the four substantial pictorial friezes around the bases of the four plinths.

On each of the plinths are  represented in turn: King Willem I, taking the oath of the constitution, a female figure representing History,  the grouped figures of Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp, French Adam of of the Duyn van Meuse dam and Léopold of Limburg Stirum, who prepared the return of William of Orange,  and a second female figure that  represents Religion.

(Sadly these are replicas from the Rijnland Foundry since the originals sustained substantial damage in 1954.)

The entire monument underwent renovation in 2004 and the bronze figures underwent special weatherproofing in 2007  to protect them from pollution and the weather.

The “triumphal stedenmaagd” (triumphal maiden/a.k.a. The Dutch Maiden) is the name given to the female figure  who adorns the very top of the monument.  During the “Dutch Revolt”  a single maiden represented “The Netherlands” as a collective entity.  The Dutch Maiden continued to be used as a symbol for a while, after the creation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The symbol of the Netherlands, The Lion stands beside her and represents the Burgundian Netherlands (formerly land that is today The Netherlands and Belgium)  and lion imagery first appears as a crest on the tomb of Philip the Handsome.  The Lion traditionally symbolises bravery, valour, strength, and is also the symbol of  royalty.

(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)

I find the history of Plein 1813  fascinating, but  must say that personally, the amazing mastery of stonemasonary of Jacques and Joseth Jaquet steals the show and takes my breath away. Every time you look you see new detail. The beauty they have left here for us to enjoy is  …Monumental!

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