Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent. I’m posting this photo from inside Kampen’s Bovenkerk for a couple of reasons.
Reason # 1 is because it was inside this church, listening to this organ, where I first fell in love with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
And Reason # 2? Because today is one of Bach’s birthdays. I say “one of” because apparently the man had two depending on whether you are looking at a calendar in the Old (Julian) Style or the New (Gregorian) Style.
This organ is one of three in the Bovenkerk. It has four manuals and 3200 pipes, the oldest of which date back to the early seventeenth century.
There was a music lesson was going on just before I took this photo. The student was up above at the console behind the pipes, while the teacher was down below, chowing down on a sandwich as he hollered out his feedback. I felt sorry for the student, but was so happy I got to hear the music.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my visit to San Francisco last summer, intending that post to be an introduction to a handful of posts about my summer vacation. And … a month later, here I am.
Part of my delay in writing about San Francisco has been, well, the things that keep me hopping from day to day and week to week. Like other trips. Also, work. Spending time with family and friends. Chores.
You know, the usual.
A more truthful reason, though, might be that I just don’t know what I think of San Francisco.
One thing I did figure out while I was there is that when I travel I much prefer to spend a much longer period of time in a place. Long stays in a city, like my winter in Paris or my summer in Amsterdam, let you really dig into the rhythm of a place and figure out what makes it tick.
Not so easy in a week.
At any rate, I’m going to do my best to share a few posts with you about this City by the Bay.
This photo was the view we had from our too-cold-to-sit-out-for-long balcony on the night of our arrival. It would prove to be the most spectacular night of our stay — every night afterwards, the fog rolled in.
But at least we had this.
For the Third Sunday of Lent, I’m posting a photo of the Church of St. Nicholas of Kampen. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of seafarers and many churches in the Netherlands are dedicated to him. (In the seventeenth century, this tiny republic along the North Sea had the world’s largest naval fleet.) The church is more commonly known as the Bovenkerk (Upper Church) and it gives the town of Kampen its distinctive skyline.
Archeological evidence points to a church standing on this spot since the early thirteenth century. A Romanesque church was built first and probably in use for about a century before it was replaced by a much larger Gothic building.
As far as Gothic cathedrals go, it is a fairly simple design, but that it was built at all speaks to the influence and power that the town of Kampen had as a trading town on the edge of what was then the Zuider Zee. Some form of a tower has existed since the building was first erected, but its present form and height dates from the nineteenth century.
The oldest church in Delft is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), which was founded in 1246. The tower was completed in 1350 and has a lean of about two metres, although I did not notice this when I visited the church about eighteen months ago.
Both of Delft’s churches are known for their stained glass windows, all of which were destroyed when a gunpowder depot exploded in Delft in 1654. Known as the Delft Thunderclap, the explosion destroyed much of the city. The stained glass windows of the Oude Kerk were not restored completely until the twentieth century.
Most of the 27 windows in the Oude Kerk depict Bible stories, but a few are more nationalistic, which is understandable given the city’s long association with the Dutch Royal Family. The Liberation Window celebrates the end of World War II and the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. The Wilhelmina Window celebrates the reign of Queen Wilhelmina from 1890 to 1948.
It is the latter window that is my photo choice for today, the Second Sunday of Lent. At the centre of the window is Queen Wilhelmina, who is the longest-reigning Dutch monarch. The figures at the bottom represent, from left to right, sterkte (strength), geduld (patience), hoop (hope), geloof (faith), liefde (love), gerechtigheid (justice), and wijsheid (wisdom).
Once again, it’s the Season of Lent and I have more photographs to show you of the many Dutch churches I visited some eighteen months ago. For today, the First Sunday of Lent, here is one of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) of Delft.
It’s called the Nieuwe Kerk because it was built about 150 years after the Oude Kerk (Old Church), which is located a few canals over.
There is a story of how it came to be that a new church was built in Delft. Way back in 1351, a man named Jan Col shared some food with a beggar named Symon who was hanging out in the Grote Markt (Great Square) of Delft. At that very moment, the two men saw the same vision of a golden church.
Symon died soon after, but Jan Col continued to have the same vision for another 30 years. He began a campaign to have a church built on the spot where he and Symon first had their vision.
Eventually, the town burghers gave in. Construction began in 1393, and the church was completed in the mid-seventeenth century. There have been several towers — the first was destroyed by fire and the second by lightning. The current tower was completed in 1872 and is the second-tallest church tower in the Netherlands.
Oh, and those visions Jan Col had for 30 years? Turns out they were will-o’-the-wisps.