The next and last stop of my journey in South Holland was Delft. The city is globally known for producing blue and white ceramics known as Delftware and it is where Johannes Vermeer lived. It has the Delft University of Technology, which is one of the Netherlands’ top schools. Delft is very close to the Hague so it made sense for me to go there. It took me 12 minutes to get to Delft from the Hague by train. Since Vermeer is one of my favorite artists, I thought it would be a clever idea to see what his hometown was like.
Like most Dutch cities, Delft has a huge square or Grote Markt. It has a city hall, shops and cafés, and Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). When I arrived, the square had a big carnival with plenty of rides and games for kids. The carnival made it a bit hard to walk around, which kind of frustrated me. On a good note, I went to a souvenir shop and bought a Holland t-shirt. I also saw a boutique that sold various types of Delftware china. Although I did not buy anything there, the pottery was beautiful to look at. One of the plates showed a brilliant image of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. It looked very similar to the actual painting despite the fact that the plate was blue and white.
Nieuwe Kerk is a marvelous attraction to see in Delft. It has a tall tower that overlooks Grote Markt and it is where past members of the Dutch Royal Family are buried. During the summer, visitors can climb up the tower and catch spectacular views of the city. Sadly, the tower was not open when I came to the church since I went in September. Even so, I was still able to see the extraordinary church hall. Nieuwe Kerk reminded me a lot of Grote Kerk in the Hague because they both have enormous pipe organs, colorful stained glass windows, statues of angels, and many tombs. One of the tombs I saw was the mausoleum of King William of Orange, who was perhaps the most important Dutch king. In the seventeenth century, King William formed the House of Orange-Nassau, liberated the Netherlands from the Kingdom of Spain, and helped his country become more Protestant instead of Catholic. To this day, the House of Orange-Nassau still rule the Netherlands and the country remains predominantly Protestant. His mausoleum is elaborate, and includes a sculpture of the king being laid to rest with his dog beside him, statues of him in various moments of his life, and the Royal Family’s coat of arms. Overall, it is a great tribute to a figure who had a significant influence in Dutch society.
What makes Delft different from the Hague is that it has more canals. They are similar to the ones in Amsterdam except they were narrower and did not have many of the iconic tall canal houses. On the other hand, I thought the canals of Delft were charming and a great escape from the hubbub of the carnival. They were quiet and their bridges and lamp posts were decorated with vibrant flowers. I noticed tourists going on a cruise tour too. Hey, it is highly likely that Vermeer sailed through those canals! There was also the city’s Oude Kerk (Old Church), which has a leaning tower since it was built on soggy land. Hopefully, the tower will not fall into the water!
Bakkerij de Diamanten Ring:
While I was walking around the historic center of Delft, I stumbled upon the Bakkerij de Diamanten Ring (or the Diamond Ring Bakery). It is a lovely bakery with a crystal chandelier and an abundance of scrumptious baked goods on display. In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that I ate an appeltaart in Delft and the Diamond Ring Bakery was where I bought it. I liked the dessert for its crunchy texture and heavy cinnamon flavor. It really reminded me of the apple pie my family makes for Thanksgiving because it is crunchy and has a lot of cinnamon too. Maybe next Thanksgiving, I could make an appeltaart. My family loves the desserts I make so I am sure they would enjoy it!
I had a splendid time visiting Vermeer’s hometown. It is a city with plenty of historic charm. Like the Hague, Delft is a great alternative to Amsterdam because it has a lot of canals and historic sights as well as cute shops without the mega tourist crowds like in the capital. Since the city is smaller, Delft is easier to get around by foot as well. Usually when tourists visit the Netherlands, they just see Amsterdam and do not explore other parts of the country. In my opinion, they should venture out and see what else the Netherlands has to offer. It is a nation with a lot of wonders that are worth seeing.