Delft, NL


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The city of Delft in South Holland is known as the home of Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer and as the major 17th-century producer of Delftware, a Dutch ceramic product styled after Chinese porcelain. Much of the city dates from that period and is remarkably well-preserved, making it a popular day-trip destination in the Netherlands.

A half-hour’s drive to the southwest is the Maeslantkering storm surge barrier, one of largest moving structures on Earth. The Maeslantkering, pictured above during a test, is designed to keep the New Waterway shipping canal clear for traffic to and from the busy port of Rotterdam, but will automatically close in the event of a storm surge to protect against flooding.

Jan Pieterse, who grew up in Delft, and his partner Deb Richardson took us out for a tour of the city and the outlying area. We both had a wonderful time and really appreciated having the benefit of so much local knowledge.

Below are trip highlights from January 17th in Delft, NL. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps

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Hoek van Holland Beach
At the Hoek van Holland (‘Hook of Holland’) Beach on a day-trip to Delft near The Hague. The winds are only blowing about 20 knots, but fair-sized waves are pounding into shore. Not a great day to be out boating in the North Sea.
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Pilot Boats
Pilot boats moored at the mouth of the New Waterway shipping canal leading to the port of Rotterdam.
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Maeslantkering
The shore-side attachment point (left) for one arm of the Maeslantkering storm surge barrier, with the other arm visible in the distance on the opposite shore. The Maeslantkering is designed to keep the New Waterway shipping canal clear for traffic to and from the busy port of Rotterdam, but will automatically close in the event of a storm surge to protect against flooding. It’s a very different design, but similar in purpose to, the Thames Tidal Control Barrier that we passed through en route to and from London.
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Barrier Closed
An aerial photograph at the Maeslantkering visitor center showing the storm surge barrier in the closed position. The gates are stored in dry docks on shore that are flooded prior to the gates closing. This allows the gates to be floated into the closed position and then sunk to lie on the bottom of the waterway. As the barrier slowly sinks towards the bottom, the water speed underneath increases dramatically. This scours all of the sand and sendiment out from underneath, ensuring a good seal against the concrete base.

The barrier is one of the largest moving structures in the world and is considered a marvel of modern engineering. The ball-shaped joints that allows the gates to move freely under the influence of wind, waves and water is the largest in the world at 32ft (10m) in diameter, each weighing 680 tons.

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Delta Project
The Maeslantkering storm surge barrier (topmost) is part of the Delta Works, a major project to protect Rotterdam and the surrounding area from flooding. The project was in response to the disastrous North Sea Flood of 1953 when 67 are dikes were breached, resulting in flooding over 527 sq mi (1,365 sq km), covering 9% of Dutch farmland.. 1,835 people died, 30,000 animals drowned, 47,300 buildings were damaged and 10,000 of those were completely destroyed.
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Greenhouses
The area north of the New Waterway shipping canal to the The Hague is packed with massive greenhouses, visible on the satellite imagery, devoted to the flower market.
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Molslaan
Molslaan canal in the center of picturesque Delft.
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Swans
Swans gliding through downtown Delft.
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Bulbs
Pots and pots of sprouting bulbs for sale street-side in Delft.
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Canal Door
Most of the Delft canal-side buildings have doors right at the water level for taking deliveries and entering and leaving by boat.
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City Hall
Delft City Hall was built in the early 1600s around a belfry (just visible with the clock at top center) that dates to the 1300s.
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Scheve Jan
The tower Scheve Jan (‘Leaning Jan’) of Oude Kerk (Old Church), founded in 1246. The 246ft (75m) tower leans about 2m from vertical due to ground subsidence.
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Gemeenlandshuis
The ornate face of Gemeenlandshuis, built in 1505 and the headquarters for the Delfland Water Board since 1645.
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Nieuwe Kerk
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) was built between 1381 and 1655. We’d hoped to climb to the top of the tower for a view, but it was already closed by the time we arrived.
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Vermeer
Renowned Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer was born, lived and worked in Delft and his famous painting Girl With a Pearl Earring is reproduced throughout the city. He lived for a time in this canal-side house across from Nieuwe Kerk, partially visible on the left.
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Dusk
Dusk looking down Hippolytusbuurt in Delft.
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Eastern Gate
Eastern Gate, built around 1400, is the only town gate remaining from the wall that once surrounded the medieval Delft.
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Klaeuwshofje
The Klaeuwshofje courtyard in Delft was built in 1605 as a residence for Roman Catholic spinsters and widows. The walls block out much of the city noise, making the courtyard unexpectedly tranquil and calm.
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Beesten+Markt
Animals were bought and sold well into the 20th-century in Delft’s Beesten Markt (Animal Market). In the summer the outdoor seating in plaza is lively with patrons. Even in near-freezing temperatures, we often see people sitting outside in the Netherlands, so were a little surprised that all the seats empty. Of course, it could have been due to the pouring rain that has just shifted to snow. :)
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Spijshuis De Dis
We completed the day over an exceptional meal at Spijshuis De Dis overlooking Beesten Markt with Jan Pieterse and Deb Richardson. Jan, who grew up in Delft, took us out for a tour of the area and has known the chef at Spijshuis De Dis for years. We both had a wonderful time and really appreciated having the benefit of so much local knowledge.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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