July 7, 2019
Here’s another charming Dutch town, dating from the 13th century, important historically as well as being to this day the home of technological R&D in the Nederlands emanating from Delft’s University of Technology. It is also famous for Delft pottery, porcelain made using Chinese techniques developed in the 14th century and much prized in Europe from the moment of its arrival. Delft pottery came to be in the 16th century. It remains popular. Sales last year were in the $36M range.
Delft is a popular tourist destination, for its charming architecture and the excellent Delft porcelain museum, as well as shops galore. There are weekly street markets, at least in summer, like in many Dutch towns of this size.
Willem the Silent, the first of the House of Orange to reign in the country, is buried at the Nieuwe Kerk in 1584, where there is a monument to him. The succeeding members of the royal family are also buried there, the latest being Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard. The church, dating from the 14th century, has a magnificent spire.
The Oude Kerk dates from 1246. It has a noticeable lean that builders tried to correct as it rose, without success. Its most massive bell dates from 1570. Due to its nine tons and the resultant vibrations, the ring it only on special occasions, such as the burial of a Dutch royal family.
We toured Prinsenhof, Willem’s residence during the revolt from Spain. Aside from some excellent portraits, it is also the interesting as the location of his assassination, ordered by the Duke of Alba, King Phillip’s representative. You can still see the bullet holes on the staircase, enlarged by probing fingers before it was protected by a plastic cover.
Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) was born in this city. Delft streets and home interiors were the subject of his fabulous paintings. We visited the Vermeer Center. There are no original paintings, while the reproductions are of modest quality. The narrative is excellent, however, and all the explanations and the short video are in English.
The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602. Delft then became a trading center, producing its wealth of architecture.