Oude Kerk (Delft)

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The leaning tower Oude Kerk Delft 2.jpg
The leaning tower
Interior of the church Delft - Oude Kerk - interieur.jpg
Interior of the church
The church from above Delft, centrum met de Oude Kerk RM11970 foto1 2014-03-09 11.21.jpg
The church from above

The Oude Kerk (Old Church), nicknamed Oude Jan ("Old John") and Scheve Jan ("Skewed John"), is a Gothic Protestant church in the old city center of Delft, the Netherlands. Its most recognizable feature is a 75-meter-high brick tower that leans about two meters from the vertical.

Gothic architecture style of architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. Originating in 12th-century France, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

The Protestant Church in the Netherlands is the largest Protestant denomination in the Netherlands, being both Reformed (Calvinist) and Lutheran.

Delft City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.

Contents

History

The Oude Kerk undergoing renovations in 2017. Delft Old Church (Old Kerk) Rennovation.jpg
The Oude Kerk undergoing renovations in 2017.

The Oude Kerk was 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.

Basilica building used as a place of Christian worship

The Latin word basilica has three distinct applications in modern English. Originally, the word was used to refer to an ancient Roman public building, where courts were held, as well as serving other official and public functions. It usually had the door at one end and a slightly raised platform and an apse at the other, where the magistrate or other officials were seated. The basilica was centrally located in every Roman town, usually adjacent to the main forum. Subsequently, the basilica was not built near a forum but adjacent to a palace and was known as a "palace basilica".

Nave main body of a church

The nave is the central part of a church, stretching from the main entrance or rear wall, to the transepts, or in a church without transepts, to the chancel. When a church contains side aisles, as in a basilica-type building, the strict definition of the term 'nave' is restricted to the central aisle. In a broader, more colloquial sense, the nave includes all areas available for the lay worshippers, including the side-aisles and transepts. Either way, the nave is distinct from the area reserved for the choir and clergy.

Aisle architectural element

An aisle is, in general (common), a space for walking with rows of seats on both sides or with rows of seats on one side and a wall on the other. Aisles can be seen in airplanes, certain types of buildings, such as churches, cathedrals, synagogues, meeting halls, parliaments and legislatures, courtrooms, theatres, and in certain types of passenger vehicles. Their floors may be flat or, as in theatres, stepped upwards from a stage.

The tower with its central spire and four corner turrets was added between 1325–50, and dominated the townscape for a century and a half until it was surpassed in height by the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). During its construction the foundations were not strong enough to support the building, and the church began to lean. As work continued, the builders tried to compensate for its lean on each layer of the tower, but to this day only the four turrets at the top are truly vertical. It is possible that the course of the adjacent canal had to be shifted slightly to make room for the tower, leaving an unstable foundation that caused the tilt.

Nieuwe Kerk (Delft) church in Delft

The Nieuwe Kerk is a Protestant church in the city of Delft in the Netherlands. The building is located on Delft Market Square (Markt), opposite to the City Hall. 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 open to the public. The church tower, designed by Pierre Cuypers and completed in 1872, is the second highest in the Netherlands, after the Domtoren in Utrecht.

By the end of the 14th century, expansion of the side aisles to the height of the nave transformed the building into a hall church, which was rededicated to St. Hippolytus. The church again took on a typical basilican cross-section with the construction of a higher nave between about 1425 and 1440.

Hall church type of church building

A hall church is a church with nave and side aisles of approximately equal height, often united under a single immense roof. The term was first coined in the mid-19th century by the pioneering German art historian Wilhelm Lübke.

The Delft town fire of 1536 and the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation brought a premature end to an ambitious expansion project led by two members of the Keldermans family of master builders. This construction phase resulted in the flat-roofed, stone-walled northern transept arm that differs markedly in style from the older parts.

Keldermans is a family of Flemish artists, originating from the city of Mechelen in the Duchy of Brabant. The members of the family were mostly architects working in the Brabantine Gothic style. As the most important architects of their time in the Netherlands, they defined the Brabantine Gothic style, and their works can still be seen today in cities like Mechelen, Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Lier, Middelburg and Gouda. Anthonis II and Rombout II were court architects for Charles V. Laurens II, last in the line, was influenced by Renaissance architecture and marked the end of the Gothic period in this region.

Transept architectural term

A transept is a transverse part of any building, which lies across the main body of the edifice. In churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform ("cross-shaped") building within the Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architectural traditions. Each half of a transept is known as a semitransept.

The great fire, iconoclasm, weather, and the explosion of the town's gunpowder store in 1654 (see Delft Explosion ) took their toll on the church and its furnishings, necessitating much repair work over the years. During one renovation, the tower turrets were rebuilt in a more vertical alignment than the leaning body below, giving the tower as a whole a slightly kinked appearance. The current stained-glass windows were crafted by the master glazier Joep Nicolas in the mid-20th century.

Stained glass decorative window composed of pieces of coloured glass

The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works created from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant religious buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture. Modern vernacular usage has often extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic leadlight and objets d'art created from foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Furnishings

The church possesses three pipe organs, from the years 1857 (main organ), 1873 (north aisle) and 1770 (choir).

The most massive bell in the tower, cast in 1570 and called Trinitasklok or Bourdon, weighs nearly nine tonnes, and because of its strong and potentially damaging vibrations, is rung only on such special occasions as the burial of a Dutch royal family member in the nearby New Church. The massive bell is also sounded during disasters, when local air-raid sirens are sounded (but not during the monthly country-wide siren tests).

Graves

Approximately 400 people are entombed in the Oude Kerk, including the following notables:

Coordinates: 52°0′45″N4°21′19″E / 52.01250°N 4.35528°E / 52.01250; 4.35528

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