Local Heart, Global Soul

September 7, 2016

After Almost A Thousand Years Franko Would Be Proud…

Filed under: GERMANY,HISTORY,PHOTOGRAPHY,TRIER — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On a stunningly fabulous day last summer, Family Kiwidutch arrived in the Trier city center and knowing what parking can be like in big cities, started following directions for any of the central city parking buldings that weren’t full.

Never one to avoid taking the “scenic route” (Yes, that means we got lost …again!) we weaved our way through small streets trying to get as close to the actual city centre as possible so that I would not have to walk too far.

By sheer chance the lift of the parking building that we choose deposited us close to an amazing building, obviously not just old but seriously ancient, and breathtakingly large.

It was so big in fact that I struggled to get photographs from angles that would do it justice, so have included a link below of other photos of it that have been uploaded by others to Trip Advisor.
I learned from the Trier Tourist Information website (link also at the bottom of this post) that this building is called:  ” Franco’s Tower” and that it is “an 11th century structure  erected in  alternating layers of cut stone and bricks, a typical Roman building technique of the time.
It was built as a residential tower and is the only surviving structure that remains true to it’s original (and recognisable) form . The tower is named by (or after) Franco of Senheim who lived there in the 14th century. 

It appears that there were no entrance(s) at ground level when it was first built, (probably for security reasons if the size of the windows were anything to go by).

The current entrance was added in later centuries. In 1308, the building was reduced by half, and the upper storeys being replaced by a lean-to roof but in 1938, Franco’s Tower was reconstructed to its original form.”
I love how it is evident that the builders literally used materials that were at hand. The different layers of stone are all different sizes and types and stand as testament to the centuries of use, change, repair and resourcefulness.

In many ways this building is an early example of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra because I have learned that it was common practice at the time to use building materials taken from other buildings being demolished, damaged or that had fallen into disrepair.

Himself tells me that the first plague reads: “Franken Tower, a residential tower from a noble family built in the 11th century and named after it’s owner in the 14th century, the Knight Franko von Senheim“.

The second plaque was more of a problem, it reads something like: “By order of the National German Monument Foundation with the assistance of …. the name of something we don’t know… possibly some sort of sponsor.” Whilst I don’t understand fully who is behind this, we say “Thank You” anyway because beautiful ancient buildings like this need modern benefactors with deep pockets to keep them safe for the next thousand years of their existence.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Trier Tourist Information : Franco’s Tower.

Trip Advisor Photographs: Franco’s Tower / Trier

Trier / Germany

 

March 13, 2014

Not A Cathedral, But If It Was Up To Me I’d Make It One…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

What do you do when a friend travels halfway around the world to visit you in The Netherlands?

Well, if you are Family Kiwidutch, you bundle her in to a hired van less than twelve hours after she arrives and take her on a whistle-stop tour of as many European countries and experiences as you can squeeze in.

We zoomed through Belgium and France so that we could take the channel tunnel to England, then back to Belgium where we showed her the fabulous town of Bruges, then followed beneath the Belgium border in France to document a few of the more than sixty amazing fortified churches.

They are not well known but deserve to be.

Once we reached the area beneath Luxembourg we turned left and headed north for pretty much the entire length of the country, taking in several castles and the sights along the way, followed by a strange day of not knowing if we were in Belgium or Germany because the national border zigzagged more than the road we were on.

Following a childhood memory from Himself we went with delight into Monschau and after lunch and a soaking we literally and metaphorically found we had bitten off more than we could chew and high-tailed it out of there because it was rather too touristic for comfort.

Instead we invaded the unassuming German town of Aldenhoven where our lodgings took us back  several decades and the next morning  when we crossed back into the Netherlands  we finally got around to showing Velvetine our “own back yard” (That’s metaphorical of course because we live in an apartment and don’t actually own a back yard).

Between seeing Escher, the Hagues annual summer sculpture exhibition, a commercial seeding exporter and Zaans Schans we are now in Delft… and as usual there is plenty to see. (We keep telling Velvetine that she can catch up on sleep on the fourteen hour plane journey back to Singapore).

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that whenever I think of Delft that the image of the Stadhuis (City Hall)  in it’s main square immediately springs to mind, but the Stadhuis has competition when it comes to being the most imposing building on the Square. The two buildings face one another at opposite ends like opposing giants, and when I saw the opposition for the first time I thought it was a Cathedral.

But Cathedral it is not: this is “Niewe Kerk” (New Church) with is the Protestant church in the centre of Delft most famous for being the second highest tower in the Netherlands (only the Domtoren in Utrecht is higher) and for being the last resting place for the House of Orange-Nassau’s: the Dutch royal family, starting with William the Silent in 1584 and more recently Queen Juliana and later her husband Prince Bernhard in 2004.

It’s possible to climb to the top of the tower but my crutches and I decided that that would be one adventure too far  for good sense  so you will have to make do with photographs of the entrance door and the tower as a whole from afar. It might be NieuweKerk but I still  think it should be a Cathedral.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 9, 2014

Delft’s Very Own Leaning Tower…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Not many people will know that “Delf” is an old word for “canal” in Dutch, since word is no longer in common use.

However the addition of a “t” turning the word into “Delft” instantly gives a word that is regognised around the globe and synonmous with the blue and white pottery made there. Delft is a very old city, starting out as a village in medieval times and achieving city rights in 1246.

Buildings, as with all places humans inhabit, came and went, fires, demolitions and relocations slowly redrew the maps of many a town and city and Delft was no different.

In 1325 there were plans to build a church, or rather extend one that was already there but there was not enough space. So the Dutch did what they do best in this situation: they diverted water, filled in one of several canals and reclaimed land to use for their new and larger church.

Engineers in the middle ages may not have relaised how crutial the relationship between a solid foundation and a large building of heavy load bearing stone was at commencement of the build, but not long after the tower started to take shape, substancial subsidence became swiftly evident as the tower took on a distinctive and alarming lean.

The solution was to make amendments to the tower as they built upwards… more weight was added to the opposite side of the tower to act as counterweight to the lean, so while at first glance the tower looks symetrical on both sides, closer inspection reveals that there are more layers of bricks on one side of the tower, subtle decorations are heavier on one side than the othe,r and with all of this careful ingenuity the church was stabalised.

The tower stands at 75 metres high and the lean is still today, the same as it was when it was built, almost two metres off centre.

The finished church tower earned itself a nickname: “Scheve Jan” (Crooked John) but the people of Delft still lived in fear that one day it would collapse. In 1843 the city council even wanted to knock it down but following a public outcry the plan was never carried out. The church itself was at first called  “St Hippolytus”,  but after the “Nieuwe Kerk”  (New Church) was started in 1381, nearby in Delft’s central square,  St Hippolytus  became forever known as the  “Oude Kerk”  (Old Church). The tower is tall so zooming in requires some creative squinting… but let’s take a closer look at the Dutch version of the Leaning Tower of Delft…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 23, 2014

It Appears That It’s Not Just Family Kiwidutch That Prefers To Remain Anonymous…

Filed under: Aldenhoven,FOOD,German Cuisine,GERMANY,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another post about our summer of 2012 adventures through small snippets of England, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Germany with visiting friend “Velvetine” from Singapore.

We are about to leave the small German town of Aldenhoven, and start the day with a typical German breakfast of  a selection of breads, cheeses and cold meats.

The breakfast room downstairs is also the back end of the bar, and  considering that fact that the place looks like it caters almost exclusively to  local clientèle, the tables are probably what were used in the restaurant when it was functioning too.  I later found that I only had two photographs of the table we breakfasted at, and both featured Himself and the kids, so I edited them out for the purposes of our family privacy and my policy of not putting identifying photographs on the internet.

I also have one more interesting “find” to show you: a lovely tower that is almost opposite the “man in the doorway” statue that I featured in yesterdays post. I didn’t find any information boards for it, not even a solitary name board, but clearly it’s an important  building because it ‘s featured on a plaque close by (which also had no name or other identifying information), and then again on another board about the town along with the little chapel and large church  we saw earlier and some other buildings we missed seeing.

I find my wish for anonymity a logical one,  after all in real life you wouldn’t be shouting out your personal details and those of  your children to complete strangers, so why do it on the web? But for a town that clearly gets very few tourists, to not promote it’s finest buildings for the few that come, to not even identify these lovely historic beauties with a simple name tag?  What a desperate shame, what a missed opportunity.

I see a lovely tower like this, clearly a loved local historic building and the historian in me would love to know what it was… who it was built by and when?, what it started life as and what it’s used for now?…  but instead we leave with a sigh, guessing and wondering.  For now at least, even with the best will and a little blog exposure on the internet, this little tower remains as anonymous as Family Kiwidutch.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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April 9, 2013

The Dom: Tall, Strong and Beautiful…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,UTRECHT (Province) — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(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)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 6, 2012

One Building Has Worn Multiple Hats, Another, the Result of a Dying Wish…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Situated near the Stadthuys entrance of the square stands a clock tower painted in a matching shade of pink/red as the Youth Museum & Art Gallery, Church and Stadthuys… our guide tells us it was built by a son over a century ago to fulfill his father’s last request. I did some research on the internet because I had totally forgotten the names our guide gave us at the time and discovered the following information: (website link at the bottom of this post if you are interested in reading more)

More commonly known as Red Clock Tower, the Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower stands tall at the center of the Dutch Square. While it was named after Chinese billionaire Tan Beng Swee, it was actually his son, Tan Jiak Kim, who had this built in 1886 to fulfill his father’s promise.

Tan Beng Swee was a rich Chinese man who lived in Malacca and was known for his philanthropy. He donated the land where the city’s Chinese cemetery now lies and the bridge just beside the tower.

For almost a century, the clock installed on top of the tower was from England. In 1982, however, it was replaced by a Seiko clock, which was not received well by the older residents of the city and caused an outrage because many of them still remember the suffering they experienced when Japan occupied the city decades ago.”

When I first photographed the clock tower  from the bridge I was under the impression that it supports a radio mast… luckily this isn’t this case, the mast being a far larger construction situated behind the Stadthuys, and my position on the bridge just producing an unfortunate angle.

Once I walked a bit further it was clear that the two were separate and that the clock tower was rather a sweet little building. In case you are wondering if  it’s Melaka’s version of Pisa, it’s me on a lean, not the tower. I was juggling crutches, camera and a water bottle and the further I walked the more I ended up leaning on at one of the crutches when I stopped since it was rather tiring keeping up. Nevermind, you get the idea of the surroundings at least.

I’m not quite sure if requesting my kids to build a clock tower would be an item that features anywhere on a list of my dying wishes… but hey, each to his own, and Dutch Square is certainly a prettier place for it, so maybe Tan Beng Swee was onto something.

There’s another former administrative building on Dutch Square too, it stands on the opposite side of the Christ Church to the Stadthuys and was built in 1784. In 1826 it became the Malacca Free School and then roughly one hundred years later a second story was added to it and it took on a new function as a post office, before finally becoming the  Malaysia Youth Museum & Art Gallery.

The  Youth Museum is located on the ground floor and the Art Gallery is housed on the upper floor and displays artworks from both local Melakan artists and from artists from around Malaysia.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.thepoortraveler.net/2012/05/tan-beng-swee-clock-tower-queen-victoria-fountain-dutch-square-malacca-malaysia/

July 16, 2012

A Tower in the Sky and a City of Sails…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are perusing the pages of my Travel journal, and following our New Zealand travels of December 2011- January 2012.

It’s early January at this point and we are leaving Northland and heading south.  Whilst I’m too amoured with the South Island and the Christchurch region to ever want to live in Auckland (for me there’s far too much motorway and way too busy) there are some aspects of the city that I love and get a buzz from every time I see  again.

Auckland and Manuaku Cities sit back to back on two adjoining harbours, and a relatively tiny strip of connecting land is all that prevents New Zealand’s Northland from being an island.

Consequently the two harbours have many bays and sailing is a very assessable and popular pass-time so it’s little wonder Auckland has earned the nickname “the City of Sails”. Christchurch’s deep water harbour and  port on the other hand is on the other side of the Port Hills in Lyttleton and whilst sailing is also popular there it’s not a patch on the marinas that are seemingly almost everywhere around Auckland’s shores.

Auckland’s Sky Tower is also a new addition to the Auckland skyline since I left New Zealand to live in The Netherlands.  Wikipedia tells me:

The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets in the Auckland CBD, Auckland City, New Zealand. It is 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast,[4] making it the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere.”

The sky tower is imposing as we round the bays and I never tire of the views as I come over the Harbour Bridge and back into the city…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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February 10, 2012

The Old Post Office, Regent Theatre …and the Clarendon Façade Doesn’t get a Third Chance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today’s post takes us into Christchurch’s Catherdral Square itself… the barriers are in the centre of the central open space of the Square as work is being done on a multitude of buildings close by.

To my amazment the Old Post Ofice building is still standing!

It hasn’t been a Post Office for years now… more recently it became a visitors centre and Starbucks and I have no idea if it is still structurally sound, or repairable if it has sustained damage, …but it’s a relief to see it here at all at this point.

A little further along the Regent Theatre building is now a sad vacant space… CERA have posted a few “then and now” posters on the fences, not for every building we can see, but for a few.

I remember well going to the “pictures” at the Regent during my years in Christchurch and the building too was a beauty inside and out that was much admired and will be sadly missed.

Further down this end of Worcester street that bends around the square and goes towards Oxford Terrace there are several other buildings that I’d like to know more about.

As a kid, I knew the building that’s now called the “Rydges Hotel” by it’s ‘old days” former name of “Noah’s Hotel” ..it sits on the northern side of the Oxford/Worcester corner. I have no idea what shape it’s in now.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the Oxford/Worcester south side corner stands the Clarendon Tower.

It’s a stange building because it was formerly the Clarendon Hotel, a grand three storey stone building that dated from around 1903.

Then, very contrivertically in the 1980’s they decided to make a tower block out of it and were going to knock down the hotel completely, but in the end they kept the origonal facade and them “grew” another 15 or so stories of modern building out of the top of it.

It was, and still is, the most bizzare juxtaposition of buildings I have ever seen and not quite a marriage made in heaven.

Yes, I was in the “camp” that said, “better some of it saved to live on in this bizzre fashion than all of it lost completely”,  but I still thought  “What were they thinking?” every time I passed it.

Wiki has more detail about it’s history and photos, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarendon_Tower .

Since the rest of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace are still cordoned off, I can only see the “town side” of the Clarendon and not the facade that can be more clearly seen from Oxford Terrace. The tower looks forelorn with it’s plywood panels covering  the broken windows.

I can’t see but am also wondering about the (Robert Falcon) Scott memorial statue (of South Pole fame) that sat on the grass on the river side opposite the Clarendon Tower, apparently it toppled in the February quake and was damaged…

…it’s a very special statue because it’s strikingly white in colour instead of the oft prefered bronze and because it was carved to an amazingly professional standard by none other than Scott’s widow, in memory of her husband and his efforts to reach the Pole.

Once again I’ve tried to use Google Street View to give you an idea of what these places were like before. The CERA  information leaflets were flapping around in the wind, so a passing walker volunteers to hold it whilst I take photos. (Thank you Lady, that was sweet of you)… or in Kiwi slang … “Sweet !!”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

November 6, 2011

Get a Square Peg into a Round Hole? …These Towerhouses Prove It CAN Be Done!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The small Dutch town of Leerdam grew over the centuries and earned the right to be called a city in 1407.  Situated on the meeting points of the Rivers Leede and Linge, Leerdam was ruled by local Counts of Leerdam (the “Vijfheerenlanden”) but the region achieved official “County” status in 1498.

The beginnings of the city are thought to have been formed around the 11th or 12th century along with a castle owned by the Lords of Arkel.

The castle incorporated part of the city walls into it’s structure but was separated from the town by a moat.

William of Orange inherited the County of Leerdam in 1557 and he also became the new owner of the castle as part of his inheritance.

in 1574 the town and the castle were besieged by Spanish forces during the “80 Years War” and was destroyed, along with vast sections of the city walls.

Sections of the former castle walls were used to rebuild new city walls but the remaining sections of the castle became a ruin, until in 1770 a “hofje” (almshouse)  for poor young women and widows was built atop of the castle foundations.

The hofje is called ‘Hofje van Aerden’  and is now a museum. During restoration in the 1970’s, original castle wall fragments dating back to 1300 were discovered at the site.

Larger sections of the city walls have been restored over the centuries  and three tower houses were built on the foundations of earlier  wall towers in 1738.

One theory for their shape is:  the bases of the tower houses are round because  a round foundation is a stronger defensive structure than a square one, but I secretly wonder if they weren’t just getting heartily sick of the idea of piling and re-piling up stones at some point and  thought, ” let’s see if we can get this square  house to sit on  the round foundation that’s already there, then we won’t need all the hard work of taking the old stones away, just to rebuild them straight away in a different shape!

Either way, I’m guessing there aren’t too many houses in the world that sport a square house on a round foundation?

Just proves you CAN get a  square peg into a round hole if you try hard enough.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 20, 2011

Playing the Paris Game…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Each time we are on the Paris ring road, we play a game.

I’ve played the game for almost 18 years now,  many times: usually whilst travelling with Himself, on one occasion with a van load of  New Zealand friends visiting,  and now finally with my own children.

The game is called “spot le Tour Eiffel”  and is basically involves scanning the expanse of the Paris skyline until one of us successfully spots the Eiffel Tour.

For some reason it’s appears to be harder to see it if you are travelling north to south on the ring road, and easier to see it if you are travelling south to north, often it can only be glimpsed for fleeting moments and the rolling contours of the city do not make it easy.

Paris is a vast city, the ring road takes you down into tunnels, dips and bumps, a sort of semi subterranean motorway that weaves in and out of the overpasses, coming up for air at  bridges and where on-ramps and off-ramps are constantly appearing at odd moments.

Tens of thousands of cars changing lanes, and maneuvering around you are the norm, you need patience and wits to drive the Paris ring road.

Himself is concentrated on getting us through the maze,  I’ve introduced the kids to the Game, and each desperately wants to be first to see le Tour Eiffel, this will be their first ever glimpse of it.

I spot it first and nonchalantly say ” Did I see something over there maybe?” and point at a specific spot, Kiwi Daughter is quickest to see it next closely followed by Little Mr, but they are quick to squabble about who was really the one to have seen it first.

I’ll admit that I cheated a bit, because first in the front passenger seat I have the best view, and secondly I have the DSLR in my hands and have been periodically  using it’s superior telephoto to look further into the distance than is fair to the other players.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter has a tiny camera with half the zoom capability and Little Mr has nothing but his eyes and is at a further disadvantage because he’s far shorter and his eye level is probably closer to the  edge of the traffic barriers than to many objects higher up.

He does however manage to spot traffic police motorbikes remarkably quickly indeed.

Little boys appear to have radar for these things.

As an added bonus not only do we score le Tour Eiffel this time, but also far into the distance but crystal clear, De Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.

We also spot some interesting art installations on the ring road and, as we near the northern end of the city, the River Seine.

Tonight we have luck, we manage to move far more than we stand still, and like a tiny red blood cell being drawn into beating heart, we are sucked up into the artery and discharged into the northern outskirts a while later. Time to hunt for a bed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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