Friday, 20 September 2013

Delighted in Delft

I have a new name to add to my list of favourite places. Delft is a small town sandwiched between the much larger cities of Rotterdam and The Hague. It's known for delftware, which is blue and white glazed pottery, for being the burial place of the Dutch royal family for many generations, and for being the birthplace, home and burial place of Johannes, or Jan, Vermeer, one of my all time top painters. When I was deciding which places outside Amsterdam I was going to visit, it had to be top of the list.
Delft is further away from A'dam than Haarlem, but a good train service got me there in no time. I was soon strolling out of the station, which is being rebuilt underground, causing a lot of roadworks and diversions. However, signs to the "Centrum" soon directed me down an old and narrow alley and I was suddenly immersed in the delights of old Delft. In fact, Old Delft or Oude Delft, is the name of the lovely canal along which you walk to get to the centre, and which won me over. The canal is narrower than most in A'dam, the houses seemed rather smaller, and the whole thing more intimate. I felt drawn into this quiet Dutch town whose history stretched back centuries to a time when it was walled, and one of the most important towns in the country.
Oude Delft led me towards the central Market Square, but not before it had tempted you with glimpses of the leaning tower of the Old Church, further down the canal. I resisted the urge to go and explore that, as my by now traditional coffee and croissant was beckoning in the cafes surrounding the square.  The square, again, seemed more intimate than the one at Haarlem, the buildings less grandiose except for the beautiful Town Hall. Like Haarlem, however, there was a church, this time known as the New Church - new as in only 14th century as opposed to 12th and 13th century Old Church.
Refreshed, I made for the entrance. One 3 euro ticket gets you into both churches, but the nice lady wouldn't change my 50 euro note! So I slid back out of the New, heading for the Old to try my luck there...but along the way I saw "The Vermeer Centre" (left).
This is a sort of resource place for everything to do with Delft's great painter son, including reproductions of all his paintings. Sadly Delft does not hold any of the originals, but it was great to see 'em all together, and have lots about his style etc explained...
(to be continued as I am off to see "Les Mis" at our regular St Brigid's film show")

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