Dom Church and Tower- Utrecht, Netherlands

Canal/river in Utrecht
Detailed doorway on our way into town

Utrecht is a beautiful, old city. It originally built on the banks of the Rhine as a Roman fortress at the edge of the Roman empire. Since then the city has survived Viking raids, being overrun by Germanic people, and many other hardships, but has stood the test of time. As we walked back into town from the railroad museum, we passed over a canal with weeping willows and other trees. So picturesque!

The Netherlands is very tourist-friendly. Not only is it flat so from anywhere in town I can find my way to the churches by navigating towards the tall towers, but every so often there are street signs that point in the direction of all the notable sights. I rarely wrote down specific directions in all of our wanderings. So we returned to the Dom Kerk and Dom Tower in Utrecht by pointing ourselves toward the tower.

We approached the church from the back, and came first into this beautiful courtyard. There were once three churches of various denominations on this site, and a chapter of canons- people who took vows and lived on-site, kind of like monks. I could imagine them walking around the courtyard, going between the church and other buildings surrounding it.

Dom Kerk courtyard

The church as it stands now was built in the 1200-1300’s in the Gothic style after a devastating fire swept Utrecht for a whole week. Due to lack of money, the nave, which went between the church as it stands today and the tower, was left unfinished. This part of the church was destroyed in a tornado in 1674. This separated the tower from the church, and the nave was not rebuilt and just made into a continuation of the town square. This church, like many others in the Netherlands, was hit by the Iconoclast, and the church was stripped of its ornate decor and religious symbols. It was changed into a Protestant church, and then briefly back into a Roman Catholic church while French troops were occupying the region in 1672. It is now a Protestant church.

Dom Kerk tower from the courtyard
Church details

In Italy, one of our favorite activities was climbing church towers. Unfortunately, when I’m out alone with Landon, I can’t climb the towers because typically no one under 4 years old is allowed to climb. So, we just admire them from the ground and imagine what the scene must be like from up above.

Top of Dom Tower
Courtyard detail
The main feature of the inside of the church were stained glass windows that were installed in the 20th century. A cute old man docent came up to me after I had taken a picture of one of the windows, and asked if I wanted to know more about it. He explained that the window has four Bible stories, and the symbolism behind them. It was interesting to hear from an expert!

Ceiling detail

One of the stained glass windows

The aisles of this church were TALL

Landon is well-trained. Although he was asleep for this adventure, he looks for the big, cool organs in churches wherever we go. He always says, “Mom! Look! Cool organ!” I can’t wait to show him the Tabernacle/Conference center organs in Utah. Those are definitely bigger than the ones we have been admiring here in Europe. This specific organ was an interesting silver/white color with gold accents. 

And, of course, we must include the organ!
Dom Tower is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands 

In order to get a good picture of the whole tower, I had to walk back a few blocks just to fit the entire thing in the frame. It is a tall structure! The bells at the top of the tower sounded fantastic chiming the hours, and could be heard all over town. After weeks of rainy, cloudy weather, we were happy to see the sun for a few hours in Utrecht. Utrecht is one of my top three cities to see in the Netherlands- behind Delft and Amsterdam. It really is a gem!


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