We visited the Meppelertoren in November 2013 and were allowed to enter it. A nice gentleman let us in told us about the exhibition that took place in the small entrance of the tower. He started by telling about the fact that the tower was sold to the Reformed community separately from the church. He also named the fact that the church remained the right of passing the tower towards the church and the right to jangle the clocks in the tower.
But anyway … the exhibition that took place in November 2014 was about the fire brigade. We saw two old and nostalgic fire trucks in the hall. Besides that we learned how firefighters had to weather the elements on the way to a fire and how sirens replaced bells in the twentieth century. The small archive contains a number of photographs, negatives, moving images, publications, journals, drawings, manufacturers' material and fire service records of various kinds. Don’t expect too much, but it is just fun to have a look at, and it is for free!
The Meppelertoren for sure towers over the city. This give Paulien (my girlfriend) always the feeling of returning home as she is born and raised in Meppel. The height of the tower is about 45 meters high and the first gallery is situated at 32 meters. In 1827 the tower was restored and received the current characteristic dome. At first the tower used to have a pyramid shaped point on top of it. This dome was made by Albert Brouwer, a carpenter from Meppel itself.
When we had a closer look at the Meppelertoren we saw two bullet holes in the front façade of the tower. These holes were made by “Bommen Berend”, the Bishop of Munster, who made war against the Netherlands alongside England and France. Of course, like many legends, this can’t be verified to be historically true. The sound o the chimes is beautiful. We were in Meppel during the Sinterklaas period and it played the songs of this particular dutch festival. This truly adds a nice atmosphere to the entire historical center of Meppel.
At first you might think that the tower is just a part of the Mariakerk (main church of Meppel) like most churches, but this is not quite true. The building of the tower was started in the 15th century, a bit after the moment as they started to built the church. In the middle ages it was not always usual to built the tower at the same time as the church itself. The fact that the tower is a different part of the building has been confirmed in 1864. In this year, to reduce the cost of maintenance, the tower itself was sold to the Reformed municipality for the symbolic amount of 1 guilder. This separated it for sure from the main building of the Mariakerk.
It's always fun to talk about Meppel with people who are born here. They are extremely proud of their beautiful village. The people born in Meppel are occasionally referred to as 'Meppeler Muggen'. This translates as mosquitoes from Meppel. I learned that this is due to a traditional folk tale. In the early days the people of Meppel thought that the Meppelertoren (church tower of the Mariakerk) was on fire, but after a closer inspection it was only a swarm of mosquitoes.
The last time we visited Meppel we were lucky to be able to inside the Mariakerk again. At this time Paulien wanted to take some pictures of the tower and we already heard some beautiful music outside the church. We were allowed to go in, but had to be really quiet. We saw and heard the HanzeOrkest playing, which was just great.
Once again we were able to have a closer look at the beautiful interior of the church. The baroque styled pulpit is of 1696 and after the extension of the church a new fence was placed in front of the baptizing area in 1782. There are also some amazing copper chandeliers to admire. Finally we had a look at the huge boards with the Way of the Cross on it. By the time we were outside again we had a another good look at the baroque façade, that allows some details of the 15th century remnants. Do walk around the church and enjoy the vibe at that particular spot. We can honestly say it is a must visit!
Although we were quite early when we first arrived at the Mariakerk in Meppel we were already allowed to enter it. A huge advantage of our early arrival was the fact that there were almost no tourists. Either the bus / coach was still on his way or everybody was having a breakfast in their hotel. Whenever we visit a church the kids always want to burn a candle, it has become a bit of a tradition. The Sight of burning votive candles - real or electronic - is common in most Catholic churches. The candles are usually placed before statues of saints or at shrines. But how did this tradition get its start?
According to A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals, by Ann Ball, the practice of lighting candles in order to obtain some favor probably has its origins in the custom of burning lights at the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs. The lights burned as a sign of solidarity with Christians still on earth. Because the lights continually burned as a silent vigil, they became known as vigil lights. Vigil Lights (from the Latin vigilia, which means "waiting" or "watching") are traditionally accompanied by prayers of attention or waiting. Another common type of candle offering is the votive light. Such an offering is indicative of seeking some favor from the Lord or the saint before which the votive is placed. So for us lighting a candle is a way of extending our prayer and showing solidarity with the person on whose behalf our prayer is offered.
What to tell about the Mariakerk of Meppel? In popular language the church is called the “Grote Kerk” (the large church). My girlfriend Paulien is born and raised in Meppel and whenever we visit the village of Meppel the first thing she notices is the tower of the church. The so called Meppelertoren (tower of Meppel) is her landmark of the village and brings back sweet memories. To me it is just a beautiful church tower anyway.
They started building the Mariakerk in the year 1422. Right at that time the city of Meppel became an independent church society and therefore constructed their own parish church. In 1459 the church choir was blessed by the Bishop of Utrecht and in 1504 the last altar was placed at its present spot. Funny fact is that in 1775 the Mariakerk had to be increased, because it had no space left anymore to bury the rich inside the church walls. The development was finished in 1780 and right at that time Napoleon forbid to bury the dead inside churches. So all the extensions were made for nothing and a waste of time and money.
the Secretarie was built in the 19th century and served as a town hall from 1853. The building is in classical style with the gable resembling a Greek temple. There's a little door under the porch which suggests there is a "underhouse". It is now an art exposition center.
I am repeating the photo from the Nightlife tip with the same name because this old building also is on the Wheem. There are markets held here and in the old days it was a cattle market. The building itself concentrates on the bearing character of walls and pillars, the artistic masonry and the specific windows. The style is called rationalistic.
There were always lodgings and pubs and restaurants around this square. Café de Beurs was formerly known as Lodging Wildeman
The Wheembuilding on Groenmarkt is from the 15th century and used to be a vicarage. The marketplace Wheem used to be the vicars garden. From 1795 it became a lodging place. Up to this day, markets are held here. It later became the Chamber of Commerce and a library and is now an exclusive interior design shop.
I don't really know what a transformer house is. It was built in 1921 by D. Monsma who was director of the city buildings. The combination of transormerhouse and private dwellings are rear. The style is neo-renaissance. The gable is inlaid with natural stone.
Museum in a monumental warehouse that shows the history of print from the very early stages of writing to the printing machines of the current times. There is a bookbinder room from 1930 and volunteers (often ex-printers) demonstrate every day.
Open Tuesday thru Saturday 13-17 hrs.
€ 3,50 entrance adults
€ 2 entrance children up to 12.
Meppel is a longtime trading town. A river port and various canals still remind of the old ways of transporting goods.