Medieval churches in Netherlands

Buitenpost Church

The Protestant church of Buitenpost is a late Gothic church with a quintuple closed choir was built in the late 15th century. The tower of the church is much older and dates from c. 1200 it was heightened in the 16th century and has a tented roof. The monumental pipe organ was built in 1877 by L. van Dam & Zn.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Buitenpost, Netherlands

St. Walburgis Church

The largest and oldest church of the Zutphen is the St. Walburgis (Saint Walpurga) church, which originally dates from the 11th century. The present Gothic building contains monuments of the former counts of Zutphen, a 14th-century candelabrum, an elaborate copper font (1527), and a monument to the Van Heeckeren family (1700). The chapter-house of library contains a pre-Reformation library which includes some valuable ma ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Zutphen, Netherlands

Rolduc Abbey

Rolduc is the name of a medieval abbey in Kerkrade, which is now a Roman Catholic seminary and an affiliated conferencing center. In 1104, a young priest by the name of Ailbertus of Antoing founded an Augustinian abbey in the Land of Rode, near the river Wurm. The abbey was called Kloosterrade, which later became 's-Hertogenrade, after the ducal castle that was built across the Wurm. Ailbertus died in 1111 and his bones w ...
Founded: 1104 | Location: Kerkrade, Netherlands

Basilica of St. Plechelm

The basilica of St. Plechelm is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the 8th-century Irish monk Saint Plechelm, whose festival on 15 July has been on the calendar of the medieval diocese of Utrecht ever since his canonisation in the 10th century. The oldest parts of the existing building date from the middle and the second half of the 12th century, but the history of the church goes back to the 8th century, when the trav ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Oldenzaal, Netherlands

Thorn Abbey Church

Thorn Abbey Church is a Gothic church built mainly in the 14th century. The Benedictian abbey was originally founded in 975 by bishop Ansfried. The oldest parts in the western part date from c. 1150. The abbey was closed in 1797 and after that its church has server as a parish church. It was restored in 1860-1881 by Pierre Cuypers. There is a famous mummy located in the glass sarcophagus in the church crypt. The rich int ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Thorn, Netherlands

Nicolaïkerk

The Nicolaïkerk is a Romano-Gothic hall church built in 1225. It was enlarged several times during the following centuries. The current bell tower dates from 1835. The church has a rare organs built in 1744 by Albertus Antoni Hinsz. There are also medieval frescoes in the walls, which were revealed in the 1950s.
Founded: 1225 | Location: Appingedam, Netherlands

Broederenkerk

Broederenkerk is a Roman Catholic church built between 1335-1338 to the site of earlier abbey. In the 16th century it was moved as a Reformed church by Calvinists, but returned to Catholic in 1799.
Founded: 1335-1338 | Location: Deventer, Netherlands

Bolsward Church

The Protestant church of Bolsward was renewed and enlarged between 1446 and 1461. The tower of the church was built in the 15th century and the gabled roof was added in the 17th century.
Founded: 1446-1461 | Location: Bolsward, Netherlands

Den Burg Church

The Reformed church of Den Burg was built around 1400 on the boulder foundations of a Romanesque church. During the uprising of the Georgians at the end of the Second World War, the church was severely damaged. The striking building was restored immediately after the war.
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Den Burg, Netherlands

Martinikerk

The Martinikerk tower is the 8th highest in the Netherlands at 94 metres. The church was built in the 15th century, but in 1547 it was struck by lightning, heavily damaging church and tower. The tower was again damaged by French troops in 1672. It was once more struck by lightning in 1717 and in 1783 became the first building in the Netherlands to be protected from lightning by a lightning rod. It was restored 1919–193 ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Doesburg, Netherlands

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church (Petruskerk) was originally a wooden church, which was burnt down in 1202. The stone church was built in the 13th century. It has been enlarged and several times like in 1492-1509. After the Reformation in 1572 all sculptures and altars were removed from church. During the French Invasion 1672 the church was badly damaged by fire.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Woerden, Netherlands

Munsterkerk

Munsterkerk, built in the 13th century, is the most important example of Late Romanesque architecture in the Netherlands. It was built as part of Cistercian Munster Abbey, a nunnery founded around 1218 by count Gerard III van Gelre. The oldest part of the church is a choir which was influenced by German cathedrals in Cologne, Speyer etc. The nave was probably built between 1220 and 1244. The church was restored by Pierre ...
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Roermond, Netherlands

St. Andreas' Church

St. Andreas" Church (Grote of Andreaskerk) was originally built in 1225. The tower is the only part remaining of this church. The current church was built in the early 15th century. The Gothic nave was completed around 1425. The church has been restored and enlarged later. The pulpit was made in 1635. The font from the 13th century dates from the first church.
Founded: 1407-1425 | Location: Hattem, Netherlands

St. Peter's Church

At an impressive 80m, Saint Peter"s spire is the tallest church tower in the south of Limburg and it"s also called the Grote Kerk, or Big Church, by locals. This Gothic cruciform house of worship was built in 1292 and boasts a prominent peak and layered walls made of brick and marlstone. Despite some adversity in its past, including a fire set by French troops in 1677 and a lightning strike in 1857, the church i ...
Founded: 1292 | Location: Sittard, Netherlands

Bovenkerk

The Bovenkerk (also known as the Church of St. Nicholas) is a large Gothic church and the most striking element on the skyline of Kampen. The interior of the church contains an early-Renaissance choir screen, a stone pulpit and a monumental organ. The church has 1,250 seats. It is a Reformed church. The construction of the church took place in several phases. The 12th century Romanesque church was modified as Early Gothi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kampen, Netherlands

St. Peter and Paul Church

The church of Saints Peter and Paul (Petrus en Pauluskerk) was built in 1217. The single-nave Romanesque church was rebuilt several times during the next three centuries. The organs date from 1562 and pulpit from 17th century. There are also several tombs from the 16th and 17th centuries in the church. Walls were decorated with murals in the late 15th century.
Founded: 1217 | Location: Loppersum, Netherlands

Ter Apel Monastery

Ter Apel Monastery is the only monastery in the larger area of Friesland and Groningen that survived the Reformation in a decent condition, and the only remaining rural monastery from the Middle Ages in the Netherlands. The convent buildings house a museum for monastery and church history and for religious art, as well as two contemporary art galleries. The former lay church of the monastery still functions as a reformed ...
Founded: 1464 | Location: Ter Apel, Netherlands

Westerkerk

Westerkerk was first time mentioned in 1311. The building of current three-aisled church began around 1470. The free-standing wooden bell tower from the was built after 1533 and is one of the few survived in Netherlands. The pulpit was built in 1566, organs in 1549 and choir in 1547. There are also tombs under the floor.
Founded: 1470 | Location: Enkhuizen, Netherlands

Zuiderkerk

Zuiderkerk is a two-aisled late Gothic church founded around 1423. It was mainly completed in 1458 and 75m high tower in 1524.
Founded: 1423 | Location: Enkhuizen, Netherlands

St. Martin's Church

Like many churches in Friesland, St. Martin"s Church was built on a terp, a heightened piece of land to protect whatever was on it from floods. Several churches had been standing on this spot before this one, although the terp had been at least two metres lower when the first church was built. The current church dates from the early 15th century and was named St. Martinus until the Reformation of 1580, when it was co ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dokkum, 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.