Utrecht (U): Nicola´kerk
Nicola´kerk ("Church of St. Nicolas", also known as Klaaskerk) is one
of Utrecht's original four parish churches. This church was the center
of a large parish, that even included several villages like De Bilt and
Vechten. Its history goes back to the 12th century, when a three-aisle
vaulted cruciform basilican church in Romanesque style was built. Of
this church the front is the most noticeable surviving part. Unusual
for a parish church are its two towers. Both towers have been crowned
with tall spires in the past. The southern tower was the first to be
changed, and was heightened in 1586 to accomodade a carillon. The
northern tower lost its spire during the tornado of 1674, and was given
the current roof afterwards.
The church underwent several changes in Romanesque style since it was
built. But between 1444 and 1479 a new church in Gothic style was
built, although many parts of the old church were used which are still
visible inside of the church. The result was the current hall-church.
Although originally a parish-church, the St. Nicolas became a monastic
church in 1529, when the Carmelites where forced to hand over their
monastery to the Knights of Saint John, who themselves had been forced
to leave their monastery which was demolished to make room for castle
Vredenburg. The Carmelites found a new home in the St. Nicolas parish.
In 1566 protestant vandals damaged the church, and finally took over
the building permanently in 1579. The interior was completely
demolished in order to make it fit for protestant services. Apart from
a few periods when the church was used to accomodate soldiers or
horses, it has been a protestant church ever since. Utrecht's Central
Museum occasionally uses it for exhibitions as well.