The beautiful organ was built between 1793 and 1796 by Rudolph Knol form the village of Hasselt. The entire organ was increases in 1897 by mister Proper, and he also changed the front view and its position in the church. Finally in 2007, the company Mense Ruiter Organ (Zuidwolde) restored the complete organ again.
Via the man who was cleaning the benches I learned an amazing fact about the church, namely that in 1943 (during the second World War) both bells were stolen by the Germans. The little bell was found and returned undamaged, but the major one was so badly damaged that he was casted again in 1946 by Jacobus van Bergen Midwolda.
But anyway ... as you can read it really pays to have some walks around the city center ... you also may get lucky and be able to enter the church.
To my huge disappointment I must say that I only have been inside the church once. My own experience in travelling all over the world learned me that all the churches abroad (outside The Netherlands) usually are open to the public during the daytime. But in my country it's not quite like that. Most churches are closed and only open whenever there is a service. I personally think that this is a shame and we all miss out on some beautiful interior (like an organ) and other church atmosphere.
But I was lucky in this case, because during a walk in my break of work I saw the door of the church and it was open. I saw one man who was cleaning the benches of the church and he allowed me in. With my IPhone I was able to produce a few nice pictures and I felt like a king :) !I had a quick look around and was allowed to stay in as long as the cleaner was doing his job. After 15 minutes I had to leave, but I was so pleased and filled with joy that I was able te be inside the Hervormde Kerk.
The Hervormde Kerk of Zartsluis is the landmark of this little village. It trully towers over the city and you can't miss it once you're here. It has a rather long belfry, which was originally a watch tower providing protection against hostile incursions. Also watchmen in this tower were on the lookout for fires. Though flags were used by the watchmen for communication, this tower contains an alarm bell. So whenever you want to visit the Hervormde Kerk in Zwartsluis, just look up and then you will find this fine place!
It's built in 1604, after a former medieval chapel was demolished in 1581. At that point this religious building was used for strengthening the fortress. The Hervormde Kerk of Zwartsluis was enlarged in 1649 by building a northen aisle. Once again there were huge improvements in 1743 by expanding eastwards. Finally the pillars were rebuilt in 1865.
To my huge disappointment I must say that I have never been inside the church. My own experience in travelling learned me that all the churches abroad (outside The Netherlands) usually are open to the public during the daytime. But in my country it's not quite like that. Most churches are closed and only open whenever there is a service. I personally think that this is a shame and we all miss out on some beautiful interior (like an organ) and other church atmosphere.
I read that the organ was built in 1974 by Van den Berg & Wendt (Zwolle and Nijmegen), using a few precious items from the previous organ which was present in this church. That was produced in 1880 by Zwier van Dijk from the city of Kampen. It would have been nice if I could see it myself and present you all a nice picture of it. But anyway, I will walk by this beautiful church many times more, so who will know for the near future :)
The Gereformeerde Doleantiekerk is trully a beautiful spot, situated on the north side just outside the city center it really is quite a landmark for the village and its surroundings.
The church is located at a major road called the N334 and at this particular spot there used to be a canal. The hall has a rectangular shape and a gable roof with dormer windows covered with tiles. On the east side it has an ornate, symmetrical facade with a small tower construction. The southern facade has a picturesque view of the neo-Renaissance through use of various elements such as corner blocks and specific layers. I must say, whenever I'm honest, that this particular place and church is one of my favorite spots to walk to (and around) right here in Zwartsluis. It gives me a very good feeling to be in the present of such a magnificent building!
Walking through the village of Zwartsluis is nice and you will see more than enough history passing by. One of the things you won't see at corner of the N334 is the (damped) Stadsingel. Right here there used to be an canal, but in the seventies it was damped in order to proivide space for the current busy road. Only the name of this street, Het Singel, still reminds of this old canal. But don't you worry the Gereformeerde Doleantiekerk (Reformed Church) still stands :) .
The Reformed Church Doleantiekerk of 1893 was built by contractor Weijs after several congregations in the Zwartewaterland area joined together. This current church building was made here to replace a little wooden church of 1887. It was originally flanked on the left side by a neo-Renaissance style vestry, which has been demolished in the seventies and replaced by the extension of existing rectory and meeting space. In my opinion a bit to modern to stand so close to this beautiful historical building. The neo-Renaissance architecture of the church building is without doubt inspired by the architecture of Hendrick de Keijser Amsterdam in the early 17th century.
It's maybe a bit morbide to realise that even under the current road (Baanstraat) there are probably still graves. They were never removed before the construction of the street. The only objects that reminds of the old Jewish cemetery are the 32 visible tombstones. The cemetery even has some more mysteries left as it is not even sure if there are some more tombstones underneath the grass, which could have overgrown them. You’re not allowed to enter the green grass, so we were not able to check this rare fact.
Ever since the old and first Jewish cemetery has been eliminated, the cemetary at the Baanstraat has been maintained by the local government. The have placed a memorial for all the departed and killed Jews during the second World War. Finally the Jewish school was restored and a plaquette reminds us of its origional destination. But anyway ... even though there is not that much to be seen, in my opinion it's a plce worth visting as it tells you a lot about the (Jewish) history of Zwartsluis. Please be respectful!
This very old cementary doesn't show much of what it used to be. It just seems to be a small lawn with a black metal pilinwork surrounding it. Although just 32 tombstones are visible, its proven that everywhere beneath the grass Jews are burried. Rough calculations about the size of a grave in the late 18th century and documents about funerals in those days, make an estimate of about 100 graves at this Israelitish Cementery! It’s very difficult to realize this once you’re in front of the metal pilinwork.
Another thing that you can't see once you're there is the synagoge. It was built in 1852 and also provided space to the Jewish community to study. But in the early years of the 19th century a seperate school for teaching religion was built and therefore the synagoge lost its main purpose and disappeared from the scene. In 1948, just after the second World War the Jewish community of Zwartsluis was added to the community of Zwolle and the synagoge was sold. At first it became a carpenter's workshop, but finally in 1969 the (beautiful) building was demolished and any touchable proof of a synagoge in Zwartsluis has been eliminated. In mine opinion ... such a shame! But who am I to judge?
Several Jewish cemeteries have been founded since the first Jews settled in the Netherlands in the 16th century. Some of them have grown to be huge monuments of a once lively community. One the most well-known is Beth Haim in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. Jews have been buried there since the year 1614, making it the oldest Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands. Just north east of the Gereformeerde Kerk in Zwartsluis, you'll still find the second Jewish Cementary of Zwartsluis, or "Smousenkerkhof" as people used to call it in the old days.
By the end of the 17th century the first Jews settled themselves in Zwartsluis. The first mentioned proof of a well organized Jewish community was at the beginning of the 18th century. Therefore this community could have an own cemetery at their disposel at 1722 called the Kleine Schans. At the same time Jews of other small cities in the surrounding area could bury their dead. Finally in the year of 1851 a second Jewish cemetery was created which can still be seen at visited at the Baanstraat, just north east of the old historical city center of Zwartsluis.