Zoeterwoudsesingel Leiden

TU Delft sunset

Exploring Delft

Recently I spent a day in Delft with a group of friends. One studied at the Technisch Universiteit in Delft some 25 years ago, so knows the city inside out. He agreed to be our guide, and show us some more unusual aspects of the city.

Unfortunately the weather was rather grey and overcast, so for the most part I shot in black and white. This is a good choice as you can boost the contast in post processing without the picture liiking unnatural. It the conditions are really grey and misty, black and white can enhance the feeling of mystery and melancholy.

We started with a canal boat trip, But it was spitting with rain, so the roof remained closed. The glass was too dirty to be able to shoot through it, so unfortunately I did not take any pictures. The price was €10 for an hour round trip.

Next we visited Roos windmill. This is a working grain mill, and as luck would have it was working on the day we visited. Admission is free, and the staff are friendly and happy to explain the history and working of the windmill and answer any questions. I found it absolutely fascinating, and can highly recommend a visit.

On to The Prinsenhof (“The Court of the Prince”), an urban palace built in the Middle Ages as a monastery. Later it served as a residence for William the Silent. William was murdered in the Prinsenhof in 1584; the holes in the wall made by the bullets at the main stairs are still visible. Opposite is an amazing sweetshop, preserved in the style of the beginning of the 20th cantury. The staff wear period costume, and they sell an amazing range of confectionary.

After the windmill we visited Nieuwekerk (or New Church), the burial place of Dutch monarchs. €12 buys you admission to this and the Ouderkerk (Old Church) and entitles you climb the church tower, designed by Pierre Cuypers and completed in 1872, it is the second highest in the Netherlands, after the Domtoren in Utrecht. Access is via an extremely narrow spiral staircase (for up and down). It was extremely busy, and there were a few hairy moments. I counted 384 steps, so it is an arduous climb and even more arduous descent – my legs had turned to jelly by the time I reached the bottom. But the view from the top is well worth the climb, and is best captured in a panorama I think.

And after the Nieuwekerk, we proceded to the Oudekerk (Old Church). The church itself is similarly austere, but more photogenic. Church interiors are actually one of my favourite subjects. I particularly like the effect of sunlight through stained glass windows. However, in Delft’s 2 reformed churches, stained glass is a rare commodity. I found the austerity lent itself to black and white.

Next, on to the iconic Zuidpoort, subject of one of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings, who was born and lived in Delft. Sadly the weather was too cloudy and grey to do th building and surrounding justice.

The final stop before dinner was the new TU library. This is an impressive and imaginative piece of modern architecture, feeling as if it is built into the earth. I will let the pictures describe it, but it is certainly worth a visit.

During a Leasurely dinner at a café in the Beestenmarkt the weather cheered up, so afterwards we returned to the TU library to photograph the sunset.

So…visit Delft and explore it for yourself!

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