I had one free day between the end of my Holland photo workshop and the arrival of my friend, Carol, to start a week of touring in Belgium. I chose to go to Delft– an easy train ride about an hour southwest of Amsterdam.
The station lies just a short distance from the pretty little town. I passed Renaissance and Gothic houses, massive churches, and shops with their beautiful reflections in the canals. My visit happened on a Saturday, market day, so tents and displays were scattered throughout the main streets.
I meandered along until I reached the Old Town Square and the bold facade of the gigantic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) built from 1396-1496. The tower stands nearly 360 feet tall. Talk about feeling dwarfed, I entered the santuary and the huge columns and high ceiling made me feel miniscule. Toward the altar I found the magnificent tomb of William I, known as William the Silent. The ornate work includes not one, but two representations of the King of Orange, one in a corpse pose (with an adorable dog by his feet) made out of white marble, and the other, a seated bronze statue. The church crypts, not open to the public, hold the royal House of Orange tombs starting with William and succeeding to present day.
Visitors can climb the church tower to get spectacular views of the city and so, I started up. Let me say, the climbing wasn’t easy. I was laden with a backpack containing all the photography equipment I own, which is to say, way too heavy. The 376 steps became an aerobic challenge and my pack and I could barely squeeze through the tiny circular stairway. I had to take it off when I reached the viewing platform in order to make my way around the narrow passage.
But, as usual with these towers, the climb was worth the effort. I could see all the way over to The Hague.
I also stopped into the Vermeer Center, Old Master Jan Vermeer was born in Delft, and here I learned about his use of natural light. While none of his original works are not on display, I had seen four masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and am a fan. The Vermeer Center presents interesting, informative exhibits and a fine introductory movie in the basement. Did you know the painter had 14 children?
On my explorations I passed by this restaurant with a clever Delft painted bicycle. Had I not eaten in an outdoor cafe, I would have stopped in.
Of course, the main reason for choosing to visit Delft is my love of the famous blue and white earthenware. Factories here still produce the pottery using old-fashioned methods. Every piece of true Delftware (check for authentic markings on the bottom) is hand-painted by skilled craftsmen. Unfortunately the Delftware factories are located somewhat out of town, so I did not have time for a visit them. Nonetheless, I totally basked in the gorgeous array of items for sale in the many shops: vases, plates, tiles, pitchers and teapots. I turned a bit blue myself, not being able to afford anything special.
But, even my small budget permitted a miniature tea set to place within the printers tray that hangs in my office. Now, the little cups and saucers remind me of my delightful day in Delft.
Disclosure: My day in Delft was totally self-funded.