Dom Tower – the best view in Utrecht


The Dutch city of Utrecht is packed with medieval masterpieces. Much of the city’s history is visible in the buildings and the streets you walk down, but one building dominates it all – the Dom Tower. Tomas Mowlam explains all about this fascinating landmark.

Look up and the chances are you’ll be able to see the Tower. The imposing stone structure was one of the largest medieval European towers constructed and it was a clear statement of power by the Church of Utrecht. Though not everyone was so happy; the Dutch preacher Geert Groote protested against the project calling it vain and wasteful. Killjoy.

Vain or not, it’s undeniably impressive; formed from two blocks with huge vaulted arches, and with a lack of visible buttresses it seems to erupt straight from the ground.

Construction started in 1321 and was completed in 1382. Originally the tower was 109 metres tall, though when it was restored in 1910 the Dutch cheekily added another 3.5 metres to it.

One of the chief wonders of the tower is the belfry and the fourteen bells, which weigh over 32 tonnes. They were cast in 1505 by Geert van Wou, one of the most famous bell-founders in the Netherlands.

Seven bells were sold off in 1664 to fund the new Carillion (a collection of bells which acts as a musical instrument), but were recast in 1982. The largest of the bells is Salvator, which weighs a mammoth 8.2 tonnes and has a diameter of over two metres. They are still rung regularly.

The tower has been through the wars; a fierce storm ravaged the Cathedral in the winter of 1674, and the unfinished nave was destroyed. The rest of the Cathedral and the tower were never re-connected and are now separated by the Domplein square and street.

The storm of 1836 damaged the top floor of the tower, and the town even considering demolishing it. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed, though restoration took five years.

Utrecht lies between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, just a short drive from the International port of Rotterdam which is serviced by P&O Ferries’ Hull – Rotterdam route.

Image Credit: bbcactii

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