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Netherlands and Paris tour 2018 – Part 5

Saturday, 6 October, 2018

Part 5

 

Delta Werke Neeltje Jans

The South-western province of the Netherlands is Zeeland.  Geographically, this part has large peninsulas.  In 1953 the Netherlands suffered from massive floods.  The floods caused the forced evacuation of 70 000 people, and left more than 1800 people dead.  More than 47000 houses were damaged, and dykes were breached at more than 60 places.

 

The Dutch then embarked on a massive project, Delta Works, to build new water restraining mechanisms.

[Source:  Imagery © 2018 Google, Map data © Google]

 

The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees and storm surge barriers in South Holland and Zeeland.  The purpose of all these was to shorten the Dutch coastline by building dykes and sluices on the outer perimeter,  and in doing so reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised further inland at different places.

[Source:  Imagery © Google, Data SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2018 Google]

The problem here is similar to climbing on top of the Eiffel tower – once up there you can’t see the Eiffel anymore. These delta constructions are huge, and given the layout of the land being so flat you have no vantage point to get to see the project.  Hence the need to resort to Google maps just to give an indication of what one is looking at.  Suffice maybe just to say that I was awestruck.

Bear in mind that the Dutch had the ability to (and did) reclaim land from somewhere in the 1400’s already, and they are still at it, only better.

If ever you get the chance to see the Dutch movie, De Storm, do watch it.  It tells the story of the 1953 storm that caused havoc, and preceded the construction of these Delta works series of dykes.

As a child we were told this story of the boy that put his finger in the hole in a dyke to prevent it from getting worse.  After having seen these dykes, I rather doubt that story.

 

Monday, 1 October

Utrecht

Utrecht is a 15 minutes train drive to the South of Hilversum.   We stuck to the part of town that centers around the Dom church, so I have no real idea what the rest of Utrecht would look like.

 

Dom church

It’s a Gothic church, huge and old, as these structures invariably seem to be.  Interesting here is that the tower sits apart from the rest of the church.  See in the picture below the tower left, with the huge space between it and the rest of the church to the right.

[Source:  Imagery © 2018 Google, Map data © Google]

It used to be one structure, but a storm in 1674 caused the connecting part of the church to collapse.  Bearing in mind how large the remaining part of the church still is, the complete structure must have resembled a warehouse.  Size wise, I mean, not architecturally, of course.

Serene church organ music was playing there.  Well, I guess that’s what church music is supposed to sound like.

Culture

From a cultural perspective, my wife was very happy to find in the Dom church a book written and illustrated by South African writer, Piet Grobler.  She also found Miffy.   Miffy is the one on the right below.  This bunny had been created by Dutch author Dick Bruna in 1955, and has featured in more than 30 books since then.

 

In service of the community

We also went to the Olivier’s pub, which is housed in an old church.  The original pipe organ is still there, but unlike as in the Dom church, nobody was playing it.  I’m probably not supposed to say this but I found the atmosphere in the Olivier’s church somewhat lighter.  Their wine on offer is not limited to communion.  Come to think of it, the architecture in …