29 September 2018

A Sojourn in Southern Holland: Delft

After having some lunch in Dordrecht, I took the train back heading north, but I also opted to stop in lovely Delft. Before my visit, I didn't really have a good notion of this town. I knew that Vermeer spent a significant amount of his life here, but beyond that, Delft was a blank item in my head. So I figured it's worth exploring for an afternoon.

I got out of the train, and slowly walked towards the Old Town. As I was heading there, I saw the canals, and they were pretty. Not only that, I also saw an opportunity to do a canal tour, so I bought a ticket and hopped into a boat.

I must say that viewing a city from a boat is slightly different from viewing it on the street. I learned a bit about how Delft's canals were used in the past. I saw a very long tunnel which apparently was used as a storage area for beer (yes, they brew beer here, and as the story goes, back then water was too dirty to drink, so people all drank beer instead).

Eventually I found myself at the main square. I saw the Waag, or the Weighing House, dating back from 1644. I saw street performers, lots of cheese shops, as well as some notable churches, such as the Nieuwe Kerk, whose tower can be seen above. I opted to enter it.

This church is notable for being the final resting place of the Dutch royalty. William the Silent (leader of the Dutch revolt against Spain and ancestor of the Dutch monarchy) was buried here in 1584. Since then, Dutch royalty has been entombed in the crypt underneath the church, with the latest being Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, both buried in 2004. During my visit, I watched several videos documenting these events, which was quite useful as the crypt is not open to the general public.

I also visited the Oude Kerk, as the entrance ticket allowed visiting both churches one after another. This is definitely an older structure, dating back from 1246. The pictures above show you how the interior is like. And yes, there are plenty of people buried in this church as well, including Johannes Vermeer. These facts simply impress upon me how rich Europe's historical heritage is, and how well-documented they are. It's definitely a different experience when you compare it to other countries in other continents. Here in Europe, you could spend a lifetime checking out museums and old buildings.

In any case, I spent an afternoon. And after meandering for a while, I decided to head back to my hotel in Leiden. I figured what I was able to do wasn't bad for a first day. Stay tuned for more.

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