A View of Delft

Diogenes's picture

We went on a day trip to Delft, a town about 10kms south of Den Haag. You can get there by tram, train or bike.

Delft is the quintessential Dutch village, so to speak, home of Johannes Vermeer, one of the most famous of the Dutch masters. It has two remarkable churches, creativily called the Old Church and the New Church.

On the way to the town square, we crossed a canal on a bridge with a slight arch. On top of the bridge, looking down the canal, my lovely wife (MLW) framed this remarkable photograph. In the center is the Old Church.

OldChurch1s (18K)

Now you might be saying "What is so remarkable about that?", and you would be right.

As MLW often remarks about the too numerous castles and churches in Europe, "It's a JAC", her code phrase for "Just another castle, Just another church".

Upon careful inspection of this photograph, however, you will notice that the boat and water are listing, and that the buildings on the left look like there going to fall in the canal.

But the church? It's a JAC. So, why did MLW take this picture?

Well MLW is an accountant, you see, and being an accountant, she has a natural tendency to seek balance in all things. So this picture is simply an adjusting entry to the balance of the church. It appears simply as it should appear.

OldChurch2s (18K)

Here is the same picture, rotated 2.5 degrees to the left. This is what the scene actually looks like.

Now every building looks like it's about to fall into the canal, with the church having the biggest tilt of all! Only the boat is level and plumb (hey I tried my best).

You see, the Old Church has this huge bell in the tower. It is so huge that if Donald Trump were alive when it was built, it would have his name on it.

Unfortunately, like Donald Trump's ego, the bell weighs so much that the whole tower, after only 200 years or so, started to tilt, giving the appearance that the church was about to fall over and sink into the swamp.

This affected church attendance, so a new church was built.

DelftNewChurchs (12K)

I have been told that the Dutch purposely erected their buildings with a slight tilt to make it easier to hoist furniture to the upper levels, since it is impossible to haul anything larger than a carry-on luggage up the narrow stairwells.

I suspect this story was invented by a clever dutch real estate agent, world pioneers in selling swampland. But I digress.

If this were America, they would rename the Old Church to something like the Leaning Tower of Delft. Everyone would nod in agreement, they would build a theme park around it, and tourism would improve.

DelftTownHalls (17K)

But apparently the Dutch have been focused on improving their building codes, to make sure that an engineering debacle like this never happens again.

Nothwithstanding the fact that the old church is still standing, this has not quelled this pursuit of perfection. This is Europe, after all.

We continued on to the village square. The new church is to the north, opposite the splendid town hall.

The differences between the old church and the new church are immediate. The new church has the latest in clarion and spiral staircase network technology. It has this amazing series of spiral staircases up to the top of the tower.

DelftView1s (18K)

Upon reaching the summit, the intrepid climber is treated to a 360 degree view of Delft. The new church is, by far, the tallest structure for miles around. And Delft is simply beautiful. It is so Europe, and it is so Dutch.

I regret to say that I did not visit the old church, partly because I could not shake the feeling that the whole thing was going to fall over at any moment.

DelftView3s (23K)

I make fun of the buildings here all in fun. In the region of the country that I come from, evidence of human habitation beyond 250 years ago comes only from archelogical excavations.

DelftView2s (24K)

The sense of history here is amazing. The buildings, the canals, and the engineering behind them are even more amazing.

Lovers having lunch in Delft

Life is good here, as it should be.