The most striking monument in Middelburg is the Lange Jan (Tall John in english).
The tower is part of the abbey complex and is 90,5 meter tall. you can climb the tower, 207 steps, to enjoy the view over Middelburg and a large part of the island Walcheren.
You will find the tower in the center of Middelburg, it can be seen from almost everywhere in the city.
The tower is open from march until october
monday / saturday 11:00 - 16:00
entrancefee € 3,00 p.p. (august 2004)
The Lange Jan is a churchtower open to the public. After climbing the 207 steps you have a magnificient view over the city at an altitude of about 90 meters.
The tower is part of the Abdij complex.
Opening times: 11AM-4PM
Admittance fee: Euro 4.00 (to be payed at the top).
The foundation of this ABBEY goes back to 1123, which we know from written documents, charters and cartularies.
The founders belonged to the NORBERTINES (missionaries) and they came from Antwerp, which at that time was part of what now is called THE NETHERLANDS, THE LOW LANDS.
During the last restoration of the Abbey, after the Second World War, a Karolingian dwelling was digged out!
Archeologists found an ancient building, fragments of pottery, textile and foot-gear;
Most important was the discovery of a COIN=BROOCH (A FIBULA 8th Century) between the dung-layers.
The BURG had been heightened and became the growing market- and staple town MIDDELBURG.
In 1217 the city received city-rights.
Under the government of WILLIAM II (out of the Dutch line of counts) the ABBEY was able to enlarge its possessions and its influence.
Soon they supervised now important parts of the isle of Walcheren.
Their country residences in Domburg 9WESTHOVE which is the youth hostel now!! and a great one come to that...see my ACCOMODATION TIPS) and Grijpskerke (Munnikenhof) were real pleasure gardens.
The ABBEY is expensively furnished.
One wing of the buildings is always kept in readyness for important visitors.
As for the buildings: the influence of various architectural styles is still perceptible: romanesque barrelvaults and austere walls with niches and alcoves; GOTHIC arches and cross-vaults and also examples of SCHELDTGOTHIC, which is a style in between romanesque and gothic!
De LANGE JAN is the largest ABBEY tower.
Nowadays various government departments are lodged again around the quiet ABBEY courts.
Many tourists visit this special place throughout the year.
Be one of them......
TALL JOHN is some 90 metres in height and a landmark in MIDDELBURG.
MIDDELBURG has grown on a concentric plan aroun a BURG (castle) built against the Normans in about 880.
The ABBEY is the oldest part of the town, the inner circle. Until 1574 it was the seat of the NORBERTINES, also known as the WHITE CANONS because of their white habits....
Since 1574 the complex has been the seat of the PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT and nowadays it also houses the ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY / former study Centre, The ZEEUWS MUSEUM and a lovely little kitchen-garden......where herbs grow....
The Abbey has 3 churches, the KOORKERK, the NIEUWE KERK and in between the WANDELKERK, also known as the auditorium.
Originally there was only 1 church for the abbey; the present buildings date from about 1300.
Following a fierce fire, the NIEUWE KERK was rebuilt in 1568.
LANGE JAN (TALL JOHN) dates from the 14th Century.
The body of the tower is octagonal and clad in calcareous sandstone.
The top, particularly the SPIRE, was several times destroyed by fire in 1568, 1712 and 1940.
This last fire was the worst one : MIDDELBURG came into the firing line on May 17th 1940 (start of the SECOND WORLD WAR here in The Netherlands) and was set on fire by the German artillery.
Bombs and shells destroyed the City Centre, including most of the Abbey complex and TALL JOHN.
Immediately reconstruction started...and the tower was officially reopened 10 years after the end of this 2nd World War: 11th June 1955!
There is a wonderful imperial crown at the top....with a very special WEATHER VANE.
Aerial view of the ABBEY COMPLEX.
Before the REFORMATION The Netherlands was a catholic country.
But this changed in the 15th Century!
Now Most inhabitants of Zeeland are Protestant and all catholic churches were chnged into protestant churches which means: no colours, no paintings, no statues, just chairs and the PULPIT which is the most important item in protestant churches.
But in this picture it is clear how large the abbey complex is. Here used to live and work Benedictin monks!
Now there are offices of the provincial government and the ZEEUWS MUSEUM e.g. and it is a great place to go see......especially the ABDIJPLEIN, surrounded by the buildings is a very atmospheric place where it is so good to sit and think and dream!
Of course you can also climb the tower called LANGE JAN and admire the 2 churches.....
Everything is situated in the very heart of the citym or should I say: this place is THE HEART of Middelburg?
The former abbey church in its time consisted of two parts, one for the clergy and one for the parish. Today it consists of three parts, two for protestant services and one, the part under the tower, for cultural manifestations. The tower is known as Lange Jan ('long John'). In World War Two it was badly damaged so the top is not the original one.
With its towers, walls and gates, the abbey is an important part of the centre. It's also a relatively big part of the centre. When the protestants captured the city in 1574 they kicked out the priests and turned the abbey into the provincial goverment building. In World War Two much of the former abbey was destroyed. Most was restored or reconstructed, while other parts were rebuilt in a more contemporary style. It's still the seat of the provincial government, but a part is a museum.
The New Church dates from the 16th century, with the nearby Koorkerk abbey church dating from the 14th century. The octagonal tower, known as Lange Jan (Tall John), also originally dating from the 14th century but unfortunately has burned down several times. Its 91m height dominates the city but is difficult to photograph because of the surrounding buildings.
Not being a religious person I am not sure if this is a church or not,but we took lots of pictures on its steps,all members took a few I belive,and sun shone all day...
The Abdij is a large complex of buildings.
You will find the New Church, The Lange Jan tower, some Castle remains and the Zeeuws Museum among the buildings.
I read you can climb all the stairs? but it is only opened from Good Friday on, so too early for my visit...
pity but I will be back!