Medieval churches in Netherlands

Nieuwe Kerk

After the Oude Kerk ('Old Church') grew too small for the expanding population of the town, the bishop of Utrecht in 1408 gave permission to build a second parish church in Amsterdam. The Nieuwe Kerk ('new church') was consecrated to St. Mary and St. Catharine. The church was damaged by the city fires of 1421 and 1452 and burned down almost entirely in 1645, after which it was rebuilt in Gothic style. ...
Founded: 1408 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Oude Kerk

The Oude Kerk ('old church') is Amsterdam’s oldest building, founded ca. 1213. Over time, this structure was replaced by a stone church that was consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint. The church stood for only a half-century before the first alterations were made; the aisles were lengthened and wrapped around the choir in a half circle to support the structure. Not long ...
Founded: 1213 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

St. Martin's Cathedral

St. Martin"s Cathedral or Dom Church was the cathedral of the bishopric of Utrecht during the Middle Ages. The first chapel dedicated to Saint Martin in Utrecht was founded around 630 by Frankish clergy under the patronage of the Merovingian kings but was destroyed during an attack of the Frisians on Utrecht shortly thereafter. The site of this first chapel within Utrecht is unknown. Saint Willibrord (died 739), the ...
Founded: 1023/1254 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

English Reformed Church

The English Reformed Church is one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam. It is home to an English-speaking congregation which is affiliated to the Church of Scotland and to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. The Begijnhof, an enclosed courtyard, was a 14th-century residence for the sisterhood of the Catholic Beguines, and the church was originally established as their chapel. It was confiscated from the Catholic la ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Buurkerk

The Buurkerk is a former medieval parish church. It is documented as being burned in in 1131, 1173, 1253 and 1279. The tower dates from 1370, but was never finished. In 1577 a cannon was installed in the church tower, aimed at Vredenburg (castle) where the Spanish soldiers there were under siege by the Utrecht schutters. Around 1580 the church endured the protestant reformation and in 1586 it was formally handed over to t ...
Founded: 1279 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Nieuwe Kerk

The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), formerly the church of St. Ursula (14th century), is the burial place of the princes of Orange. In 1584, William the Silent was entombed here in a mausoleum designed by Hendrick and Pieter de Keyser. Since then members of the House of Orange-Nassau have been entombed in the royal crypt. The latest are Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard in 2004. The private royal family crypt is not ...
Founded: 1396 | Location: Delft, Netherlands

Martinikerk

The Martinikerk (Martin"s church) is the oldest church in Groningen. The church and its associated tower (the Martinitoren) are named after Saint Martin of Tours (316–397), the patron saint of the Bishopric of Utrecht to which Groningen belonged. The church was a cathedral for a short period during the first bishopric of Groningen (1559–1594). The origins of the Martinikerk are a cruciform church built i ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Groningen, Netherlands

Grote Kerk

The Grote Kerk or St. Bavokerk is a former Catholic cathedral located on the central market square in the Dutch city of Haarlem. This church is an important landmark for the city of Haarlem and has dominated the city skyline for centuries. It is built in the Gothic style of architecture, and it became the main church of Haarlem after renovations in the 15th century made it significantly larger than the Janskerk. First men ...
Founded: 1479 | Location: Haarlem, Netherlands

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk is a Protestant church and only remnant of the medieval city of Rotterdam. The church was built between 1449 and 1525. In 1621 a wooden spire was added to the tower, designed by Hendrick de Keyser. Poor quality of its wood caused the spire to be demolished in 1645. A stone cube was added to the tower, which proved too heavy for the foundation in 1650. New piles were driven under the tower and in ...
Founded: 1449-1525 | Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

Basilica of Saint Servatius

The present-day Basilica of Saint Servatius is probably the fourth church that was built on the site of the grave of Saint Servatius, an Armenian missionary who was bishop of Tongeren and died allegedly in 384 in Maastricht. A small memorial chapel on the saint's grave was replaced by a large stone church built by bishop Monulph around 570. This church was replaced by a larger pilgrim church in the late 7th century, which ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Maastricht, Netherlands

St. John's Church

St. John's Church (Sint-Janskerk), named after St.John the Baptist, was originally built as a baptistery for the St. Servatius Chapter of Maastricht. In 1633, after a period in which it functioned as an autonomous parish church, it came into the possession of the Dutch Reformed Church, established in 1632. This as a result of the capture of Maastricht from the Spanish army in 1632 by the troops of the Seven United Provinc ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Maastricht, Netherlands

Grote Kerk

The Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady) is the most important monument and a landmark of Breda. The first notice of a stone church in Breda is from 1269. In 1410, the construction of the church started with the choir. In 1468, the church was ready but in 1457 the old tower collapsed and between 1468 and 1509 the current tower was built. They continued building until 1547 when the church was finished in its current shape. In ...
Founded: 1410 | Location: Breda, Netherlands

St. John's Cathedral

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John (Sint-Janskathedraal) is probably the best sample of gothic architecture in the Netherlands. It has an extensive and richly decorated interior, and serves as the cathedral for the bishopric of "s-Hertogenbosch. The cathedral has a total length of 115 and a width of 62 metres. Its tower reaches 73 metres high. Originally, the cathedral was built as a parish church and was dedi ...
Founded: 1340 | Location: 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

Oude Kerk

The Oude Kerk (Old Church), nicknamed Oude Jan ('Old John'), is a Gothic Protestant church founded as St. Bartholomew"s Church in the year 1246, on the site of previous churches dating back up to two centuries earlier. The layout followed that of a traditional basilica, with a nave flanked by two smaller aisles. The most recognizable feature of the church is a 75-meter-high brick tower that leans about two ...
Founded: 1246 | Location: Delft, Netherlands

St. John's Church

The Sint Janskerk (St. John's Church) is a large Gothic church, known especially for its stained glass windows, for which it has been placed on the UNESCO list of Dutch monuments. The church is dedicated to John the Baptist, the patron saint of Gouda, and was built during the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1552 a large part of the church burned, including the archives. Most information of the early period is taken from the ...
Founded: 1485 | Location: Gouda, Netherlands

Der Aa-kerk

Originally there was a chapel situated on the site of the current Aa-kerk church. This chapel was devoted to Mary and to Saint Nicholas, the patron of the bargees who cast off the vessels at the Westerhaven. In 1247, the chapel became the parish church and was named Onze Lieve Vrouwe ter Aa (Our Lady at the Aa) - Aa being the nearby river. Groningen had two centers at the time. One of them was around the chapel. Here liv ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Groningen, Netherlands

St. Peter's Church

The Pieterskerk (St. Peter"s Church) is one of the oldest in Utrecht. Its construction began in 1039 and it was inaugurated on 1 May 1048 by Bernold, Bishop of Utrecht (although the lost west towers were probably only finished about a century after the inauguration). Characteristic of the Romanesque style in which it is built are the church"s large nave pillars, each hewn from one piece of red sandstone, and the ...
Founded: 1039-1048 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk

The Groote Kerk of St. James (15th and 16th centuries) has a fine vaulted interior, and contains some old stained glass, a carved wooden pulpit (1550), a large organ and interesting sepulchral monuments, and some escutcheons of the knights of the Golden Fleece, placed here after the chapter of 1456. It is remarkable for its fine tower and chime of bells, and contains the cenotaph monument of Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam, de ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Basilica of Our Lady

The present-day Basilica of Our Lady is probably not the first church that was built on this site. However, since no archeological research has ever been carried out inside the building, nothing certain can be said about this. The church"s site, inside the Roman castrum and adjacent to a religious shrine dedicated to the god Jupiter, suggests that the site was once occupied by a Roman temple. It is not unlikely that the t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Maastricht, Netherlands

St. Nicholas' Church

The St Nicholas" Church is a medieval parish church from the 12th century that was reconstructed in the 15th century into a gothic church. An unusual feature is the 14th century cupola painting in the crossing with its ornamental and geometric shapes.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

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Reims Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths. A major tourism destination, the cathedral receives about one million visitors annually.

History

Excavations have shown that the present building occupies roughly the same site as the original cathedral, founded c. 400 under the episcopacy of St Nicaise. That church was rebuilt during the Carolingian period and further extended in the 12th century. On 19 May 1051, King Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev were married in the cathedral.

On May 6, 1210 the cathedral was damaged by fire and reconstruction started shortly after, beginning at the eastern end. Documentary records show the acquisition of land to the west of the site in 1218, suggesting the new cathedral was substantially larger than its predecessors, the lengthening of the nave presumably being an adaptation to afford room for the crowds that attended the coronations. In 1233 a long-running dispute between the cathedral chapter and the townsfolk (regarding issues of taxation and legal jurisdiction) boiled over into open revolt. Several clerics were killed or injured during the resulting violence and the entire cathedral chapter fled the city, leaving it under an interdict (effectively banning all public worship and sacraments). Work on the new cathedral was suspended for three years, only resuming in 1236 after the clergy returned to the city and the interdict was lifted following mediation by the King and the Pope. Construction then continued more slowly. The area from the crossing eastwards was in use by 1241 but the nave was not roofed until 1299 (when the French King lifted the tax on lead used for that purpose). Work on the west facade took place in several phases, which is reflected in the very different styles of some of the sculptures. The upper parts of the facade were completed in the 14th century, but apparently following 13th century designs, giving Reims an unusual unity of style.

Unusually the names of the cathedral's original architects are known. A labyrinth built into floor of the nave at the time of construction or shortly after (similar to examples at Chartres and Amiens) included the names of four master masons (Jean d'Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims and Bernard de Soissons) and the number of years they worked there, though art historians still disagree over who was responsible for which parts of the building. The labyrinth itself was destroyed in 1779 but its details and inscriptions are known from 18th century drawings. The clear association here between a labyrinth and master masons adds weight to the argument that such patterns were an allusion to the emerging status of the architect (through their association with the mythical artificer Daedalus, who built the Labyrinth of King Minos). The cathedral also contains further evidence of the rising status of the architect in the tomb of Hugues Libergier (d. 1268, architect of the now-destroyed Reims church of St-Nicaise). Not only is he given the honor of an engraved slab; he is shown holding a miniature model of his church (an honor formerly reserved for noble donors) and wearing the academic garb befitting an intellectual.

The towers, 81 m tall, were originally designed to rise 120m. The south tower holds just two great bells; one of them, named “Charlotte” by Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in 1570, weighs more than 10,000 kg.

During the Hundred Years' War the cathedral was under siege by the English from 1359 to 1360. After it fell the English held Reims and the Cathedral until 1429 when it was liberated by Joan of Arc which allowed the Dauphin Charles to be crowned king on 17 July 1429.

In 1875 the French National Assembly voted £80,000 for repairs of the façade and balustrades. The façade is the finest portion of the building, and one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

German shellfire during the opening engagements of the First World War on 20 September 1914 burned, damaged and destroyed important parts of the cathedral. Scaffolding around the north tower caught fire, spreading the blaze to all parts of the carpentry superstructure. The lead of the roofs melted and poured through the stone gargoyles, destroying in turn the bishop's palace. Images of the cathedral in ruins were used during the war as propaganda images by the French against the Germans and their deliberate destruction of buildings rich in national and cultural heritage. Restoration work began in 1919, under the direction of Henri Deneux, a native of Reims and chief architect of the Monuments Historiques; the cathedral was fully reopened in 1938, thanks in part to financial support from the Rockefellers, but work has been steadily going on since.

Exterior

The three portals are laden with statues and statuettes; among European cathedrals, only Chartres has more sculpted figures. The central portal, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is surmounted by a rose window framed in an arch itself decorated with statuary, in place of the usual sculptured tympanum. The 'gallery of the kings' above shows the baptism of Clovis in the centre flanked by statues of his successors.

The facades of the transepts are also decorated with sculptures. That on the North has statues of bishops of Reims, a representation of the Last Judgment and a figure of Jesus (le Beau Dieu), while that on the south side has a modern rose window with the prophets and apostles. Fire destroyed the roof and the spires in 1481: of the four towers that flanked the transepts, nothing remains above the height of the roof. Above the choir rises an elegant lead-covered timber bell tower that is 18 m tall, reconstructed in the 15th century and in the 1920s.

Interior

The interior comprises a nave with aisles, transepts with aisles, a choir with double aisles, and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels. It has interesting stained glass ranging from the 13th to the 20th century. The rose window over the main portal and the gallery beneath are of rare magnificence.

The cathedral possesses fine tapestries. Of these the most important series is that presented by Robert de Lenoncourt, archbishop under François I (1515-1547), representing the life of the Virgin. They are now to be seen in the former bishop's palace, the Palace of Tau. The north transept contains a fine organ in a flamboyant Gothic case. The choir clock is ornamented with curious mechanical figures. Marc Chagall designed the stained glass installed in 1974 in the axis of the apse.

The treasury, kept in the Palace of Tau, includes many precious objects, among which is the Sainte Ampoule, or holy flask, the successor of the ancient one that contained the oil with which French kings were anointed, which was broken during the French Revolution, a fragment of which the present Ampoule contains.

Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral, the former Abbey of Saint-Remi, and the Palace of Tau were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.