Thursday, November 24, 2005

DELFT, the Royal Family’s Once Upon a Time Home City

Delft is a small city in the region of South Holland nestled between Rotterdam and The Hague. It was founded on the 11th century and was granted the city charter in 1246. The city enjoyed royal prestige being the home residence of Prince William of Orange. Up to the 17th century, Delft was a flourishing and influential commercial center in the Netherlands.

Delft, located in the southwestern part of the Netherlands. See the blue square on the map. Just a few minutes away from Rotterdam and The Hague, about an hour to Utrecht and Amsterdam.


The Prinsenhof is the former residence of Prince William of Orange [William the Silent] from the House of Nassau who led the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain, in what was called, “The Eighty Years of War”. He was known as William the Silent because of his absolute discretion. He preferred to listen and rarely spoke, even on controversial matters.

Het Prinsenhof [The Prince’s Court]

On July 10, 1584, he was assassinated in his home at Prinsenhof. The bullet holes are up to this day visible on the walls, they prove to be the silent testimonies of that horrible day.

The Prinsenhof is now a museum.


Gemeenlandshuis [Dike Office]. Stadhuis [City Hall].

The Gemeenlandshuis was built in Brabantine Gothic style decorated with colorful coat of arms in the doorway arch. Built in 1400 along the Oude Delft 167, this building served as the residence of the mayor and dike master of Delft, Jan de Sluyter. The mansion now houses the office of the Delfland Water Council. Dikes and water are a main aspect in Dutch society.

Located at the market square, the Stadhuis was built in the 16th century in northern Renaissance style. The building was caught on fire in 1618 and was reconstructed and completed in 1620. To this day, the imposing structure serves as a government office, the municipal hall of Delft.


Blue heart art. Hugo Grotius in the market square.

Contrasting epochs, the modern blue heart artwork flanked by the gothic medieval New Church. On the other side which is not shown on the picture are 17th to 18th century buildings.

Hugo Grotius or Hugo de Groot is a scholar, an appointed historian, a moralist and an esteemed lawyer who believes in the freedom of war and peace. At 11, he was enrolled in Leiden University not as a child prodigy but as an adult. At 16, he was sworn in as a lawyer in The Court of the Province of Holland and The High Courts.


Nieuw Kerk [New Church, on the left]. Oude Kerk [Old Church, on the right].

The Nieuw Kerk was completed in 1381 and its tower is the 2nd highest in the Netherlands after the Dom tower in Utrecht. New Church is the dwelling of the magnificent mausoleum of Prince William of Orange, the burial vaults of the Dutch Royal Family and the grave of Hugo de Groot.

The Oude Kerk was built in 1240 and is the oldest parish in Delft. This church is now a museum and also serves as the burial chambers of noteworthy Delft citizens such as the world renowned painter, Johannes Vermeer and the father of microbiology, Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, who is popularly known as the founder of the microscope [fact is he wasn’t].

There are two things quite ironic here. One, a church called New Church built in the late 14th century? Two, churches as tombs? Hmm…

… Pause …

The skies in Delft were thankfully clear but it was still *bbrrrr* chilly. Since our fingers were frozen, MadamE [whom I knew for 15 years already] and I were guessing that the temperature would have to be fluctuating between 0C or -1C. It was not a comforting sight to see people wearing gloves when we don’t have any, so instead we tugged our inside sleeves out and protected our freezing knuckles behind them snugly.

Together with MadamE inside the Pannenkoek [Pancake] restaurant, and enjoying my Glow wine [a typical German wine mix]. MadamE lives in Amsterdam together with her Filipino husband, a researcher working on his Physics PhD and their two beautiful daughters. Pictures were taken from MadamE's camera.

About halfway through our touristy trail agenda we took refuge from the cold in a pancake restaurant by the market square. By the time we got in, our toes have already started to ice up! Don’t you just hate it when you have to physically check if your toes are still coupled to your feet? We heaved a sigh of relief when the familiar gush of heat received us. That felt like almost home.

The first on the menu has to be none other than coffee. We need something hot to warm ourselves up... after which MadamE, following my advice, took the Belgian Duvel beer, while me, upon recommendation by the waitress on what’s best on their red wine list, decided on the pungent hot Gluewijn [which is a typical German winter wine mix, Glühwein in Deutsch and Glow wine in English]. With the chilly weather outside, it was just perfect.

… Back …


The Oostpoort [East Gate]. Delftwares in Delft.

The Oostpoort was built in 1400 and is the only city gate that survived. A small drawbridge is positioned right in front of the gate. It now serves as a house and an art gallery. There is a famous painting of Delft by Johannes Vermeer with the Oostpoort projected in view. I’ll have to would say that the Oostpoort is the most scenic of all pockets in Delft.

We have wanted to visit the Royal Dutch Delftware factory, “De Porceleyne Fles” which was established in 1653 and is the last remaining Delftware factory from the 17th century… but helaas we got lazy and retracted our footsteps. Delftware is the most popular souvenir of Delft.


Quaint Delft houses by the canals and little bridges. Molen de Roos [The Rose Mill].

Lovely and pleasing to the eyes, these quaint picturesque houses with enchanting little bridges are typically Delft.

Molen de Roos is located at Phoenixstraat by the railway tracks and was built in the beginning of the 18th century. This is one of the last remaining windmills preserved in Delft.


Souvenir, old Dutch ice skates. An Antiek [Antique] shop with a ramshackle look.

Ice skating is the national sport of Holland. These old Dutch ice skates are made of wood and steel with leather straps on it. Surprisingly, there are still a few loyal subjects who use them to this day.

Antique and second hand shops are always fascinating to me. You never know what kind of treasure you will find. Sadly, we didn’t have enough time to check it out.

More pictures of delightful Delft can be found in my Dutch Photo Album.

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