Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Delft

Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Delft (must see)

The New Church came after the Old Church. No surprise there. The very first New Church was temporary, made of wood in 1381 and consecrated in 1382. The Gothic stone basilica New Church structure was begun in 1384 and the inner wooden church was disassembled. The church is on the Market Square, opposite the Town Hall.

The tower, designed by Jacob van de Borch, was not started until 1396. It was slow building, finished in 1496. The tower was ill-fated. In May, 1536, a lightning strike on the tower started a blaze that nearly consumed the entire town. The city archives went up in smoke, resulting in the loss of close to all public records before 1536.

Bad luck came back again. 1654 was the year of the Delft Thunderclap. A gunpowder storage magazine in the northeast corner of town exploded. The center of the city was erased and the New Church did not escape damage. All the stained glass windows in the church disintegrated. The next magazine was situated well out of town.

In 1872 the church tower attracted lightning once again. Pierre Cuypers, architect, designed a new tower strengthened with Benteimer sandstone. Pierre also replaced the spire, making the New Church the tallest in the Netherlands after the Dom Tower in Utrecht. The tower can be climbed using no less than 356 steps.

The New Church was a Roman Catholic church named for the Virgin Mary and Saint Ursula of Cologne. The Reformation changed all that in 1572, when the New Church was usurped by the Dutch Reformed Church. In 2004 the Dutch Reformed Church merged with other Protestant churches to form the Protestant Church of the Netherlands.

For centuries, the New Church has been the burial place for members of the House of Orange-Nassau. The first of them, William the Silent, was entombed in a mausoleum in 1584. The latest burial – of Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard – took place in 2004. The royal family crypt is private and not open to the public.

The native of Delft painter Johannes Vermeer, christened in the New Church on October 31, 1632, had pictured this church's tower in his masterful landscape “View of Delft”. Notably, in his painting the bells are not yet seen. According to the independent Dutch art historian Kees Kaldenbach, the delivery of carillon for the New Church started in 1660 and was completed in the summer of 1661, which corresponds with the dating previously suggested, based on Vermeer's painting.

A historical chronicle says that the 36 bells installed in the New Church were "the latest piece of technology." Their music must have been a source of constant pleasure to Vermeer's ears, who would have heard them every day from his nearby studio.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Delft. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) on Map

Sight Name: Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)
Sight Location: Delft, Netherlands (See walking tours in Delft)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Delft, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Delft

Create Your Own Walk in Delft

Creating your own self-guided walk in Delft is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Delft Introduction Walking Tour

Delft Introduction Walking Tour

The word "delven" in Dutch means "to dig." The town of Delft began in 1075 when a nobleman decided to build his dream manor where a canal crossed the silted up river Gantel. A settlement became a market town with a large market square. The town was called "Delft."

Canals were vital to Delft. Flat-bottomed boats brought in products, fuel and people. In 1246 Count...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Johannes Vermeer's Delft Walk

Johannes Vermeer's Delft Walk

The Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675) spent almost his entire life in his home town, Delft. He left only a few times, towards the end, on the short trips to Amsterdam and The Hague.

The old Delft undoubtedly was one of the most typical little towns of the 17th-century Netherlands, and as such, was rather picturesque. Just like any other Dutch place, Delft was dominated by its...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles