The town's main church, and most recognisable landmark, is the grey sandstoned Catholic Basilica of St Plechelm. A place of worship has occupied the site since the 8th century and the building of the present edifice was begun in 954 by Bishop Balderik who dedicated it to St Plechelm.
Despite being one of the Netherlands' patron saints there seems to little consistent information about Plechelm save that he was a Northumbrian priest who became a missionary to the Netherlands and was martyred sometime around 730 AD. His name day is July 15th which is as good an excuse as any for the locals to have a few beers on that evening!
Much of the Basilica dates from the Middle Ages but remains of the 11th and 12th century construction are still evident.
No Dutch town is complete without its public works of art dotted around almost randomly and Oldenzaal is no exception which is ideal for my style of random wandering (between bars that is!).
One of the most common themes here is the "Boeskoolmenneke" (the white cabbage boy), who is the town's much loved mascot, whilst others include celebrations of local crafts and commemorative sculptures from the annual carnivals.
Here's a few examples:
This was originally gifted to the town by the Bishop of Curacao in 1862 which may, or may not, have had something to with the repeal of slavery in the Dutch Antilles around that time.
The pump was removed in the early 1900's following an upgrade of the town's water supply but reinstated in 1981.
The present day incarnation isn't actually a pump as such but simply a big tap with a trough under it. It is though still popular with budding young models looking for photo ops for their portfolios ;)
The large boulder in the town's market square was probably deposited locally during the last Ice Age by a glacier from Scandanavia. Legend has it that the metre-high rock, which weighs 7,820 Kg, was used in prehistory as a sacrificial altar to the moon-goddess Tanfana.
I don't know whether it's still used for this purpose or not but it does seem popular with the local young girls ;)
This is a very local custom I think.... maybe only happening in my backyard. I had a very weird bird (two actually) visiting my garden that love to eat catfood!
When I sat in the back garden in the summer, I used to put the bowl of catfood outside the backdoor for my cat. This way I could keep the backdoor closed, and my cat could get to its food. But the cat didn't eat all the catfood at ones. And one day this bird discovered the bowl, and took a taste of the catfood, and decided that catfood tastes nice! The bird was quite scary at first going to the bowl.... because where catfood is, the cat can't be far! But my cat is all lazy and relaxed from the warm sunny weather, and of course a full belly. Hahaha, and it is too lazy to chase the bird. And after a while the bird came into the garden, full of convidence and started eating from the catfood on a daily basis.
It's very funny to watch sitting in the backyard, seeing this bird coming and going with a piece of catfood in its beak :-))
The ballooning. This event is held every year in park 'The Hulsbeek' in Oldenzaal. You can find much more info and pictures in my ballooning travelogue
During day time the local time can be read from the sun dial at the side of the St. Plechelmus Basilica.