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Visiting the Grote Kerk, Leerdam, The Netherlands: early brick structure, with 14th, 15th and 16th century elements

Updated on February 12, 2013
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
Tower of the Grote Kerk, Leerdam
Tower of the Grote Kerk, Leerdam | Source
Grote Kerk, Leerdam
Grote Kerk, Leerdam | Source
Map location of Leerdam, South Holland, The Netherlands
Map location of Leerdam, South Holland, The Netherlands | Source

A Medieval structure used by a Protestant congregation

The relatively low tower of this brick church building in Leerdam, The Netherlands, dates from approximately 1300. The remainder of the building basically dates from between 1400 and 1550.

This, then, is substantially a Medieval church, although hardly was it complete when the Reformation period arose and the building passed under Reformed influence. Thus, its name is a little problematic in translation, and not just for linguistic reasons. It is known as the Great Church (Dutch: Grote Kerk ) which in other circumstances might be rendered Cathedral. Except that there is the strong idea that exists among Reformed ministers that there is a strict equality among them: so it becomes somewhat awkward to use terminology supposedly redolent of a headquarters of a diocese.

So in the title I have left the Dutch term 'Grote Kerk', thus (1).

When I visited Leerdam, this building was still very much into a historically Reformed mode, at least, in terms of a coming event advertised: a service to commemorate William of Orange.

Features of the building include two small aisles adjacent to the larger nave, of dimensions such to exclude the possibility of nave windows: this fits the traditional definition of a pseudo-basilica: a term which seems to be employed more in The Netherlands than in English-speaking countries (although here I may be mistaken). Other features include multi-coloured, patterned brickwork and a small but conspicuous clock turret atop the tower, which, with its repeated Syrian arching, reflects a Romanesque style, with, however some elements of Gothic arching, also.

The building is located at Leerdam is located at Kerkstraat 32 , Leerdam, in South Holland (Dutch: Zuid-Holland) province, The Netherlands.

February 12, 2013


(1) On the other hand, if I were describing a church building in Belgium's Flemish region (Dutch: Vlaams gewest ) which was called a Grote Kerk, I might well simply translate it as 'cathedral', because the religious history of the country has been different. Such are the pitfalls (and benign creativities?) of the translator. Indeed, I cannot even claim consistency in these hubpages for the way in which I have translated the term as it relates to buildings it denotes in The Netherlands!

Also worth seeing

In Leerdam itself, the National Glass Museum (Dutch: Nationaal Glasmuseum) exhibits the glass-making industry, under Royal patronage, which has long existed at Leerdam.

Utrecht (distance: 31 kilometres), the tower of the Grote Kerk, at 112.5 meters, is the tallest church building in the Netherlands.


How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam-Schipol Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM (distance from Leerdam : 69 kilometres). The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services between Amsterdam-Schipol and Leerdam . There is car rental availability at Amsterdam airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Be advised that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may be of interest


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