Local Heart, Global Soul

March 12, 2014

Going To The Stadhuis To Get Married…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes there is a place, the mention of which always conjures up and instant image. In Delft this image is for me that of the Stadhuis (City Hall).

It stands in the central square of Delft, the “old centre” the sort of which can often be found in old European cities.

The building used to be the main building of Delft’s city council (city hall) but these days most of the civic duties are held elsewhere and just the wedding ceremonies are held here.

Such is the popularity and beauty of the building that there can be a waiting list of up to a year to get married here, although that depends entirely on the day of the week, with Saturday’s being the most popular. In the Netherlands you are “legally” deemed married by the State after a ceremony that takes place in the Gemeente Stadhuis (City Hall) and a religious ceremony is an optional extra that has no legal standing.

My Sister in Law was lucky enough to be able to change her second choice venue to her first choice of the Delft Stadhuis only due to a late cancellation by another wedding party, and having attended the ceremony inside I can vouch for the beautiful historic interior.

Wikipedia tells me: “The City Hall in Delft is a Renaissance style building on the Markt across from the Nieuwe Kerk. It is the former seat of the city’s government, and still today the place where residents hold their civic wedding ceremonies. Originally designed by the Dutch architect Hendrick de Keyser, it was heavily changed over the centuries and was restored in the 20th century to its Renaissance appearance.

In the town hall from 1618 are some group portraits, and portraits of the counts of Orange and Nassau, including several by Michiel van Mierevelt (1567–1641), one of the earliest Dutch portrait painters, and with his son Pieter (1595–1623), a native of Delft. The oldest part of the complex is the tower covered in “Gobertanger” limestone from Wallonia, a building material used often in important renaissance buildings in the Netherlands up to 1600.The tower, called “De Steen” or “The Stone”, was originally built around 1300 and has decorative clockfaces from 1536 and the bells were made by Hendrick van Trier and Francois Hemony. The facade has a “Justitia” statue. Under the tower is an old city prison where the assassin of Willem the Silent, Balthasar Gérard, was kept before sentencing.”

It’s of course an imposing and beautiful building, but in this respect it’s not alone because facing it at the opposite end of the square is another especially imposing building that vies equally for the attention of the visitors and residents of Delft….

(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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Hall_(Delft)

July 14, 2013

The Dutch Stadhuis: Where Marriage and Judgement Sit in Adjoining Rooms…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I didn’t know anything about the history of the “Stadhuis” of Veere  (City Council Building / City Hall) so went to google for some help… I found a Dutch text there and translated the most interesting bits into English for you here:

The Stadhuis of Veere can be found on Marktstraat (Market street) in Veere, Zeeland.

It is built in the gothic style and features in it’s ornamentation statues of the four men and three women of Veere.

The Stadhuis is one of the top one hundred UNESCO monument buildings in The Netherlands. On the ground floor is the “Vierschaar” (this translates literally as “four square”) which was the term used in Dutch for a tribunal, or early court.

Before national laws were introduced each town had a committee of seven men (noted townspeople and sheriffs) who acted as judges and “vierschaar”referred to the four-square dimensions of the benches in use by the sitting judges.

Many historic Stadhuisen had a room set aside for this purpose, which were also distinctive because they were often decorated with scenes from the Judgement of Solomon. Construction of the Stadhuis began in 1474 and was completed in 1477.

It’s undergone two restorations during it’s history the first in 1885 and the second in 1930-1935. Since 1591, the Stadhuis has had a tower with a set of carillon bells.

The melody of the carillon is changed four times a year by changing the drum, a process that used to be a two day process but now takes about five hours with modern tools.

The Stadhuis has a wedding room on the first floor, and today the Vierschaar Museum is also located inside the building where a permanent collection of art and the silver cup of Maximilian of Burgundy are on display. The building also hosts annual exhibitions.

Kiwi’s Note: Many people are surprised to find out that you have to be married by the Gemeente (city council) for your marriage to be legal in the Netherlands. A church ceremony may be done as an additional and optional “extra” but is not the legal ceremony.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For this reason every Stadhuis in The Netherlands has a wedding room where marriages take place and often, especially in an old historic Stadhuis, these rooms are beautifully and ornately decorated.

Due to the narrowness of the streets and the arrangement of building around the Stadhuis in Veere, it was difficult to take photographs that captured the building as a whole.

In the end I came to the conclusion that maybe this was a good thing because by taking photographs of the “pieces” we can better appreciate the detail of this amazing building.

There are a mixture of photos here, a few are from the first trip we made to Veere four months ago and the rest are from last weekend’s second visit.

In case you are wondering about who the “four men and three women” are who are depicted in the statues, I have no idea, and couldn’t any documentation to tell me either (most likely because any information will be on local Zeeland sites). I intend to ask our friend if he knows.. but I do find it interesting that there are seven statues and there were seven judges… a coincidence?  I’ll try and find out.

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stadhuis_van_Veere

December 30, 2012

The Myriad of Styles that is the Schoonhoven Stadhuis…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s often a shock for visitors from anglo-saxen countries to find that in the Netherlands a couple are only legally married by a ceremony in the Stadhuis (City Hall /City Council) and not legally married by a church ceremony.

You may of course still have a church service but it’s just an “extra” event that takes place after the official ceremony has taken place in the Stadhuis.

Luckily many Stadhuisen  in the Netherlands are stunning buildings rich in history and the Stadhuis in Schoonhoven is no exception. (we can also tell by the deflated pink and white heart balloons tied onto the statue that there’s been a wedding here recently).

Here is some background information about the Stadhuis at Schoonhoven and they city itself:

Schoonhovens Stadhuis has fifty chiming carillon bells (these are also known as Glockenspiel bells in German), making it one of the biggest sets of carillon bells in the Low countries.

The Stadhuis building was originally designed in the Gothic style and dates back to the 15 century but during renovations in 1776 and 1927 it was changed considerably with the result that much of  it’s original character was destroyed.

There is still a lot of character in the building, an old carved lion, and stone insert face decorations either side of the door that I assume represent “birth” and “death”.

In front of the Stadhuis there is an arched and vaulted area built over the waterway and also a star shaped mosaic in the pavement, possibly denoting an old place of court. Like the Stadhuis itself, today both of these are national monuments.

Schoonhoven (now with 11.000, inhabitants) was founded in the 13th Century on the border of Holland and Utrecht.

The Lords of Schoonhoven were powerful noblemen who reigned from their castles. The 14th century was the cities most affluent century. Schoonhoven is one of the Netherlands fortified cities and was besieged several times.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In 1572 it was occupied by the Geuzen (a Dutch group who faught the Spanish) and in 1575 the Spanish took the city again. Between 1582 to 1601 the walls of the city were reinforced. In 1672 the city was part of the Dutch water-wall defence system against the French and five bastions were constructed around the city.

Between 1573 and 1795 Schoonhoven was the tenth most powerful city in Holland, with many prominent people from city government, including the cities two mayors also involved in the national government.

In the city there were many trades, including brewers and rope makers  and there was a lively trade in hemp. In the 17th century the city boasted a fleet of 30 inland waterway ships, and in the 18th century copper and silversmiths arrived. The Silversmiths become famous nationally, their main product was small jewellery for farmers all over the country at the end of the 19th century a school for gold and silversmiths was established.

Between 1861 and 1921 Schoonhoven boasted a military training school and after the Second World War many soldiers left for Indonesia via Schoonhoven. In 1857 a scheduled steamboat connection was established with Rotterdam, and between 1914 and 1942 there was a train connection with Gouda.

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 5, 2012

Stadthuys / Stadhuis … Still Mysterious in Red…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this page of my travel diary we are in Dutch Square in Melaka, Malaysia.  In yesterday’s post we saw the most obvious Dutch building: a windmill,  but one of the oldest and most famous is situated just across the square: the Stadthuys.

Stadthuys”  in Dutch means “Town Hall” but this spelling is the outdated one and has long since been superseded in the Netherlands by the word “Stadhuis”.

The Stadthuys in Melaka dates back to 1650 and was built by the Dutch as the offices of the Dutch Governor and (say some sources:his deputy)  because Melaka was at the time the administrative capital of the region here under Dutch occupation and control.

The Square here has various names: “Dutch Square”  is one of them and another is “Red Square”.  This second name came about because  although the buildings here are made of bricks, the British  painted over it in a shade of salmon pink for maintenance reasons and then year later the state government tweaked the colour to the present day hue of  pinky-red for  they are now famous.

The Stadthuys is the oldest remaining Dutch colonial building in Asia and currently houses the Museum of History and Ethnography and inside are displays of  the history, artifacts and traditional costumes of Melaka.

I found a detailed article on the Stadthuys here: http://www.hollandfocus.com/v2/index.php/magazine/contributors/dennisdewitt/99-dennisdewitt/111-ddwstadthuys

and from it learned (somewhat edited for brevity) :

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Stadthuys of Malacca is a reproduction of the former Stadhuis (town hall) of the Frisian town of Hoorn in the Netherlands. However, the former Stadhuis of Hoorn only existed from 1420 until 1796.

Hoorn’s former Stadhuis was replaced in 1796 by a building that is now known as “het oude stadhuis” (the old town hall), which is still  there and in use until 1977  Hoorn’s current Town Hall is a modern building.

Therefore, anybody who wishes to see what the former Stadhuis of Hoorn looked like in the 15th to 18th centuries,  only the Stadthuys of Malacca can give an excellent representation of the now extinct Frisian building.

The Stadthuys was situated within the walls of Malacca fort and located opposite the northern gateway into the fortified town, across the river. The fort itself encompassed a considerable area surrounding the hill of St. Paul’s, which accommodated offices and warehouses for the VOC and all the amenities needed by its colony. The fort walls no longer exist today thanks to the folly and vandalism of the British who maliciously ordered its destruction while safeguarding Dutch possessions in Asia from the French, during the Napoleonic wars.

The Stadthuys is a massive complex. The building’s interior has two floors and it is 30 metres wide. Apart from being the governors’ house, the Stadthuys also includes the Secretary’s office, a prayer room, a dining room, a guest house, servant’s quarters, the home of the Chief Merchant, a prison, trade office, warehouses, courtyards and a detached bakery. 

The spacious records room of the Stadthuys is exceptionally suitable for the preservation of official documents, even though tropical climate is often the cause for the swift deterioration of paper. With massive metre thick walls, a high ceiling and big floor tiles, it provides a cool interior atmosphere and apparently has a dry-cellar effect.

Standing at the Dutch Square, the Stadthuys appears majestically impressive with its big windows, doors and stairs. On the outside, a stone balustrade leads a dual stairway to a small balcony that is also accessible through a door on the first floor. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During the Dutch rule of Malacca, the Stadthuys, like all the other Dutch administration buildings in Southeast Asia, was painted white. By way of the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1824, Malacca was given up by the Dutch and the town became a British colony. In 1911, the British painted the Stadthuys and the Christ Church a salmon red.

The actual reasons as to why these buildings were painted red by the British is now lost in time but legends and theories are abundant.

One opinion was that the buildings were painted red to copy the colour of red brick stone houses in Holland. Apparently, the Dutch painted the buildings red to remind them of their homeland. However, this theory is flawed because it was the British, and not the Dutch, who painted the buildings red.

Another theory was that the British wanted to differentiate British built houses from the old Dutch houses. Therefore, the British painted the old Dutch buildings red. However, there were other old Dutch buildings in Malacca that were not painted red by the British.

Most amusingly, it was also suggested that the red discharge from chewing sireh (betel) was constantly spat onto the white walls of the buildings by the locals in venting their hatred and contempt for the Dutch. Later, the British simply decided to cover it up with red paint. A witty tale probably perpetuated by anti-Dutch propaganda and contrived by nationalistic British colonials.

A more plausible reason given was maybe due to the lack of maintenance, the red laterite stone used to build the Stadthuys showed through the whitewashed plastering. Also, perhaps heavy tropical rain often splashed the red soil up the white walls. So, the British decided to paint it all red to save maintenance costs.

There are also tales of secret pathways and tunnels that were suppose to serve as strategic hidden entry and exit points in the building. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The famous Malacca-born Malay scholar and teacher, Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, who as a young man worked as a scribe for Sir Stanford Raffles in Malacca, wrote in his historically acclaimed autobiography that there was a tunnel that ran through St. Paul’s hill into the Stadthuys. Abdullah also remarked that the building had a door which gave direct access to the Malacca river, located about 200 metres away. It was thought that the river exit provided the governor with an escape route out of the fortified town, in case there was trouble.

Although the rumours of secret tunnels have perpetuated in Malacca throughout the generations, these stories have never been substantiated. Dutch conservation architect, Laurens Vis, in his thorough investigation of the Stadthuys in the 1980s found no evidence of any secret tunnels or hidden pathways. But maybe the building still closely guards its age-old secrets?

Today, the Stadthuys is Malacca’s premier museum, welcoming over 48,000 visitors annually. However, it now goes by the name of Museum of Ethnography and it is used for displaying bits and pieces of the different eras of Malacca’s colourful history and the culture of its people.

Unfortunately, the museum provides no information on the architectural layout, historical function and past activities of the Stadthuys itself. The only feature that gives a somewhat true representation of the history of the building is the governor’s room, a single room that attempts to recreate the atmosphere of how it was during Dutch times there.

(Dennis De Witt is a Dutch Eurasian from Malacca who as a hobby studies the history of Dutch influence in Malaysia and the surrounding region. He is currently the Project Co-ordinator of the Malaysian Dutch Descendants Project, a community effort working to bring together the forgotten Dutch descendants in Malaysia. For further information, please visit www.dutchmalaysia.net)

Whilst I was delighted to be able to see the local Melakian market in full swing on the day we visited, the one downside was that it made getting decent photos of the Stadthuys very difficult indeed. In fact I ended up with more Market than Stadthuys… also probably because of the presence of the market, the front entrance area was rather restricted in space so there were people everywhere, taking photos, coming out, waiting to go in, and my photos didn’t come out well at all.  We also saw the queue and knew immediately that there would be no hope of even a super quick tour on our tight schedule… but yet another reason to return one day for a longer stay and a closer look.

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