De grote Kerk (the big church), Dordrecht
The center piece of the harbor, the Grote Kerk (Big Church) dates from the 11th century. The tower was begun in the 14th century but never completed to either its original or revised design. The organ also has a colorful history that spans centuries.
The Grote Kerk (great church) is surely one of the highlights of the city. It was built between 1460 and 1502, but it wasn't really completed until the 18th century. The church is a good example for late, brabant style gothic. You can see a small exposition about the history of the city and although the largest part of the decoration was destroyed during the reformation, it's still worth a visit. The organ dates back from 1614, the carillion is from 1949 and is one of the biggest in the Netherlands.
You should not miss to climb the tower. There are 279 steps (although you have the impression that there are more than 500 :) ), but if you make it to the top, you will be rewarded with a very beautiful view on the city. See also tips - off the beaten path.
Entrance is for free, you have to pay only if you want to climb the tower (1,00 EUR / 0,50 EUR children / children under 5 for free).
It took almost 400 years to complete this church, and even after such a long time it hasn't been finished ever since. The reason was the ground that could not hold the heavy construction. Dordrecht is situated on water and therefore its soil was too wet and soft to deal with tall buildings.
The church started leaning and therefore left the way it is - missing the big part of its tower.
Some claim that this church has the largest carillon in Europe, after several bells were added to it in the year 2000. Personally I doubt it, but who knows maybe it is true.
The building itself is very impressive and can be seen from the city center as well as from the Old Harbor. The entrance to the church is from the Old Harbor side as well.
About the Churchtower:
The Gothic Big Church is the third biggest one in the Netherlands, and the tower is about 75 meters high (about 250 feet) and never finished. The dome-vault of the Big Church is the only one in The Netherlands fully made of stone.
The Tower of the Big Church was build about 1182.
A few centuries ago, the size of the church's tower was an indication of the city's wealth.
Dordrecht was a fabulously wealthy city, but the tower was never finished:
Dordrecht's position in between rivers made the ground very wet and spongy, and unable to support a structure so high. The tower started leaning over 2,5 meters,
Which it still visible right now.
The famous Big Church also has the largest Carillon of Europe.
You can visit and climb the tower every day from 10:30 AM till 4:30 PM
Price: €1,- or free every first sunday of the month
Nice, cosy and beautiful to see. The old harbour of Dordrecht is ancient, with small bridges, townhouses and stores.
The best way to visit this citycentre is by foot, so take a walk and discover the hidden alleys, patio's and little streets.....
You can't miss this Gothic giant! This is a big church in Brabantine Gothic style, with nice details and an impressive tower. Even though this tower was only half finished it was still big enough to make a town like Rotterdam jealous. The church can often be visited and the tower can often be climbed. You should have a great view from up there!
Oh, do you see that building in front of the church? If not, click on the picture for a better look. Looks old, doesn't it? Only, it doesn't stand there for that long. It used to be in Rotterdam, but when that city decided it no longer had room for it (as it did with many old buildings) in 1969 it was deconstructed and, minus its bottom part, rebuilt in Dordrecht in an altered form. There are more buildings in Dordrecht that are younger than they seem, or at least used to be somewhere else not very long ago. I think a building stops being old when it leaves the place where it used to stand, but in Dordrecht it does add to the atmosphere. They could have built some really modern buildings instead too. I think I like this better.
Finished in 1500, the Grotekerk was never fully completed: the tower began to lean during construction, instead of a massive and brilliant dome the church is topped by four clocks, added in the 17th century. From April to October you can climb to the top, 279 steps, for views of the town.
One of the most impressive buildings of Dordrecht. The Grote Kerk can be seen almost from every place you are.
CLIMB THIS TOWER AND GET THRILLED BY THE VIEW ONCE YOU ARE HIGH UP IN THE SKY!!!!
SO VERY REWARDING........