Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back to Delft

Delft was maybe my favorite town on the trip. I can't say that with any amount of certainty, since the whole trip was wonderful, and I enjoyed things about every place we stayed, but I will go out on a limb and say Delft was my favorite. Ask me tomorrow, and I may have a different answer.

Anyway, one activity we did a couple of times on the trip was climb towers. Every town has a town hall or at least one church with a tall steeple. If they are open to tourists, it is a great idea to climb them, if not for the exercise, then at least for the view.  In Delft, it was the Nieuwe Kerk tower that was open, so up we climbed; all 378 steps. As you can see, the view was stupendous.

The Tower was not the only selling point for a visit to the church - it also has the tomb of William I of Orange, the leader who helped to drive out the Spanish from the Netherlands in the 16th century.  He is buried there almost on accident - he was assassinated in Delft, and since the country was at war and his family's traditional burial place was out of reach, he was buried in the church.  Since then, all of the members of House of Orange has been buried in Delft (except William and Mary, since they were also the monarchs of Britain, and are buried in Westminster Abbey). Doesn't his chair and ruff look uncomfortable?

For such a (relatively) small town, Delft sure had some interesting residents.  Johannes Vermeer lived his entire life in Delft, and although none of his paintings are currently housed in Delft, there is a very interesting interpretive center dedicated to his life and work. They have displays of how his workroom may have looked, and interpretations of some of the symbolism in his images, using reproductions of his paintings.  They also have this lovely set-up where you can pose for a picture as a Vermeer painting. You can see a copy of the original here.

To my immense regret, we never stopped at this store for an appelflappen, a sort of apple fritter/filled donut/all around yummy pastry. We walked by it many times, and I managed to remember to take a picture of it, but we never stopped. Sigh. Guess we have to go back.

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