Highlights of Delft

Highlights of Delft

Delft Town Hall on the Markt square

Delft Town Hall on the Markt square

Delft is an old Dutch city with a typical Dutch center, complete with canals and houses with beautiful gables. It has many claims to fame: William of Orange (a.k.a. William the Silent) was murdered in Delft and was buried there, the Dutch kings and queens are buried in Delft, Golden Age master painter Vermeer lived in (and made a few paintings of) Delft, and Delft Blue pottery (or Delftware) comes from Delft.

There is a lot to see and do in Delft, but your trip should certainly include a stroll along the canals and over the market square, the two old churches with their tombs of royals and famous people of past centuries (including Vermeer), the Prinsenhof museum where William of Orange died, and a tour of a pottery factory.

Markt (Market Square)

Markt square in Delft with the Town Hall

Markt square with the Town Hall

The main square of Delft, dominated on one side by the New Church (see below), and on the other by the monumental 17th century town hall. Stroll around the square, or sit down at one of the many cafes, and enjoy the beautiful gables, the shops selling Delftware or Dutch cheese, the statue of Hugo Grotius, and of course the church and the town hall.

Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

Detail of a monument in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft

Detail of a monument in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

The 15th century New Church is hardly new, and there are many newer churches in Delft. But when it opened its doors there was only one other church, so at the time the names Old Church and New Church made sense. Those names stuck, and the original names are all but forgotten.

The New Church is home to the royal burial crypt where members of the Dutch royal family are entombed (not open to the public) and the mausoleum of William the Silent of Orange.

Oude Kerk (Old Church)

Interior of the Oude Kerk in Delft

Interior of the Oude Kerk (Old Church)

Since the New Church opened its doors, the original church of Delft is known as the Old Church (Oude Kerk, in Dutch). It was built in the 13th century to replace an even older church on the same spot. Its tower, built in the 14th century, is visibly leaning, about two meters from the vertical.

There are many old graves in the church, most of them from local notables, some of them of people with international renown: Johannes Vermeer (painter of the Girl with the Pearl Earring), Piet Hein and Maarten Tromp (both naval heroes), Antony van Leeuwenhoek (the first microbiologist, famous for his improved microscope).

Prinsenhof

Statue of William the Silent in the Prinsenhof museum in Delft

Statue of William the Silent in the Prinsenhof museum

William the Silent of Orange is one of the “founding fathers” of the Netherlands. He had a residence in Delft, in a former monastery. In 1584 he was murdered there. The residence is now a museum called Prinsenhof (Prince’s Court). The holes in the wall made by the bullets that killed William the Silent are still visible.

Delftware pottery

Delft is famous for its blue and white Delftware pottery. The pottery is known in Holland as Delfts Blauw (Delft Blue). There are several Delftware factories open to the public, and many shops in downtown Delft sell it.

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