Medieval churches in Netherlands

Valkhof

The Valkhof is on a hill overlooking the river. It is the site of a former Charlemagne fortification and the surviving Carolingian elements are quite modest. There are two buildings with a Carolingian element. The first is an octogon chapel built in the style of Aachen in the 8th or 9th century. The initial building was constructed about 1000 and rebuilt about 1400. It used material from Charlemagne"s fortification a ...
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Nijmegen, Netherlands

St. John's Church

Saint John’s Church is a Romanesque basilica was founded shortly after 1040 by Bishop Bernold and dedicated to John the Baptist. It was in the Middle Ages one of five collegiate churches of the city. Saint John’s Church was originally largely identical to the St Peter’s Church and the defunct church of Paul Abbey.
Founded: c. 1040 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

St. Eusebius' Church

St. Eusebius church is named after the 4th-century saint Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli. On the site of the present building initially stood a church dedicated to St. Martinus but after some relics of St. Eusebius arrived in the town during the early part of the 15th century, it was decided to build a new church dedicated to the saint at the old site. This new structure gradually replaced the old building over the next cent ...
Founded: 1450 | Location: Arnhem, Netherlands

St. Michael's Church

St. Michael"s Church in Zwolle was first time mentioned in 765 AD and the Romanesque church was erected around 1200. The current three-aisled church was erected between 1406-1466. The massive tower collapsed in 1682. The church contains a richly carved pulpit, the work of Adam Straes van Weilborch (about 1620), some good carving and an exquisite organ (1721).
Founded: 1406-1466 | Location: Zwolle, Netherlands

Grote Kerk

The medieval Grote Kerk originates from the 11th century. It is a church in the Brabantine Gothic style with an unfinished tower and is the second oldest church in the city. The oldest part of the current church, St. Mary's chapel, dates from 1285. The current church was built mainly between 1367 and 1504. The interior represents Renaissance style and dates from 1538-1541. The choir was built in 1744 and overwhelming pulp ...
Founded: 1285 | Location: Dordrecht, Netherlands

St. Stephen's Church

St. Stephen"s Church dates probably from the 7th century AD, when bishop Kunibert of Cologne lead the campaign of spreading Christianity. It was enlarged and restored severaltimes during centuries, but the current exterior dates mainly from the 16th century. It was badly damaged in the Second World War but restored in 1969.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Nijmegen, Netherlands

Middelburg Abbey Church

The Premonstratensian abbey in Middelburg was founded in 1127. Most of the buildings were destroyed by fire in 1492 and 1568. Today there are two adjacent churches, Koorkerk and Nieuwe Kerk. The Nieuwe Kerk dates from the 16th century, with the nearby Koorkerk abbey church dating from the 14th century. The octagonal tower, known as Lange Jan (Tall John), also originally dating from the 14th century but unfortunately has b ...
Founded: 1127 | Location: Middelburg, Netherlands

Grote Kerk

The Grote Kerk was built between 1470–1498 by Anthonius Keldermans. It is dedicated to St Lawrence contains the tomb of Floris V, Count of Holland (d. 1296), a brass of 1546, and some paintings (1507). The mechanical clock has 27 bells by Melchior de Haze (1600s), and 8 modern bells. The tower bell was made by Jan Moer in 1525, with a diameter or 130 cm. The two organs are world-famous. The smaller one, called the ...
Founded: 1470-1498 | Location: Alkmaar, Netherlands

Lebuïnuskerk

The Great Church or St. Lebuinus Church is a Gothic hall church, built between 1450 and 1525. Originally consecrated to the English missionary Lebuinus, it was one of the most distinguished churches of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Utrecht. In 1580 the temple was taken by the Calvinists, who completely eliminated the interior decoration and renamed it the Great Church. Nowadays the temple belongs to the Protestant Chu ...
Founded: 1450-1525 | Location: Deventer, Netherlands

St. Nicholas Church

The Mountain Church or Saint Nicholas Church is a Romanesque basilica built between 1198 and 1209 and consecrated to Saint Nicholas. In the 15th century the Mountain Church underwent several renovations, which gave it a more late Gothic appearance. The two characteristic tower spires are built in that period. The lower part is still original. In 1580 the Dutch Reformed Church took the temple and renamed it the Mountain Ch ...
Founded: 1198-1209 | Location: Deventer, Netherlands

St. James' Church

The Jacobikerk is named after its patron saint St. James the Greater. The church is one of the medieval parish churches of Utrecht, along with the Buurkerk, the Nicolaïkerk and the Geertekerk. Today it is known as the starting place for Dutch pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella along the Way of St. James. The current gothic church dates from the end of the 13th century, but was expanded in the 14th and 15th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Kloosterkerk

The Kloosterkerk (or Cloister Church) was originally a monastery first built for the Dominicans in The Hague in 1397. A thriving new center of arts was established in The Hague by the Court of Albrecht of Bavaria (1336–1404) and his second wife Margaret of Cleves. Some known artistic products to have been produced in this period are an important illuminated manuscript, the Hours of Margaret of Cleves commissioned be ...
Founded: 1397 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Martinuskerk

The first written reference to St. Martin"s church in Weert dates from 1056. The current building originates from 1456. The construction of tower was started in 1528, but was completed much more later. The church was restored and altered in 1906 by architect Pierre Cuypers.
Founded: 1456 | Location: Weert, Netherlands

Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren

The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwetoren ("The Tower of Our Lady") is a Late Gothic church tower which is 98.33 metres tall and reaches high above the inner city. It"s one of the most eye-catching monuments in town and the third highest church tower in the Netherlands. The church that belonged to the tower was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in the 18th century. The first chapel on site was constructed on this site i ...
Founded: 1444 | Location: Amersfoort, Netherlands

St. Gertrude's Church

St. Gertrude's Church is he smallest and newest medieval parish church dedicated to the saint Gertrudis van Nijvel. It was built between 1248-1259. The choir and transept were added a century later and the tower around 1400.
Founded: 1248-1259 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Gertrudiskerk

According the legend, the Gertrudiskerk was founded the church in 654 by Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, abbess of the abbey in Nivelles. The older part of the church consisting of the towers, dates to around 1370. These were later incorporated in probably the 14th and 15th century when changes were made to the church. The current church building, completed in 1477 was designed by Evert Spoorwater. He devised a new chancel wi ...
Founded: c. 1370 | Location: Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands

St. Christopher's Cathedral

In 1410 St.Christopher's church was moved to the market square, inside the new town wall. The church was badly damated during the Second World War. The tower was one day before the liberation blown up by the Germans and rebuilt after the war in modified form. On 13 April 1992 caused an earthquake in Roermond for significant damage. On top is a huge statue of St. Christopher watching over Roermond. Today the cathedral is ...
Founded: 1410 | Location: Roermond, Netherlands

Grote of Jacobijnerkerk

Grote of Jacobijnerkerk is the largest medieval church in Leeuwarden, built between 1275-1310. It was originally part of the Dominican abbey. It was badly damaged by fire in 1392. The large southern hall was added in the late 15th century and the nave enlarged in the early 16th century. The organs were made by famous Christian Müller in 1727.
Founded: 1275-1310 | Location: Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Maria Magdalenakerk

The Grote (Great) or Maria Magdalenakerk is a late-Gothic cruciform basilica replaced an earlier church built in the 12th century which probably stood at the location of the nave of the current church. In the 15th century, when Goes transformed from a village into a town, the church was extended to the east. Between 1455 and 1470 the choir was rebuilt. Originally a hall-choir seems to have been intended, consisting of thr ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Goes, Netherlands

Great Church

The Great Church (Grote Kerk) dates from the 15th century. Prior to the Protestant Reformation it was named for St. Vitus. It survived the Spanish invasion of 1572 and the subsequent burning of the town. The church has numerous wooden vaults that are painted with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. These were hidden for many years and were only rediscovered in a recent restoration. The church is the venue for a number ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Naarden, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.