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Grote Kerk - Dordrecht


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Grote Kerk (Big Church)

The Big Church or "Church of our Lady" was built by order of the Frisia-Holland Count Dirk V (1061-1090) and started in 1077 by Pieter de Groot ?. He was the grandfather of Anna, a spiritual virgin, who is said to have lived for 113 years (1081-1196).

The Tower of the Big Church was built from about 1182. The Church ship itself was enlarged from about 1339. The whole Church was finally ready by the end of the 14th century. The Big Church is the third biggest one in the Netherlands, and the tower is about 75 meters high (about 250 feet) and never finished (see later).
The dome-vault of the Big Church is the only one in The Netherlands fully made of stone. The Big Church is a Gothic building.

The Tower

There is an interesting story to be told about this tower, and church towers in general. A few centuries ago, when most churches were built, the size of the church's tower was an indication of the city's wealth. You might notice that many towers look like this one: as if it was suddenly cut off, with the last bit added on hastily (in this case the 4 clocks).
This is usually because the town turned out to be less wealthy than they would have liked to think, and they ran out of money before they were finished. This isn't the case in Dordrecht.

Dordrecht was a fabulously wealthy city, as it was positioned at a crossroads of some main rivers and played an important part in trade, so they could easily have afforded to make it 125 meters high, as was intended.

Unfortunately, Dordrecht's position in between rivers also meant that the ground was very wet and spongy, and unable to support a structure so high. The tower started leaning over 2,5 meters, which it still visibly does right now, and the building had to stop, otherwise it would simply have fallen over.



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