Monday, September 29, 2014

Open Monument Day: Hoeven Abbey/Bovendonk

Remember how I mentioned (last post) that every September there is an Open Monument Day in the Netherlands when over 4,000 historic buildings and sites are open to the public free of charge?  Actually, that day, Saturday, has now become the weekend.  And because of that, we got to go somewhere on Sunday.

The village of Hoeven (pop. 6,500) is only 60 km from where we live here in Gorinchem, so even when we drive the backroads, you're talking about less than an hour's drive.  And you know us, we like to stop to see whatever is of interest along the way.

Like this city hall in Klundert, built in 1621, for instance.
Astrid LOVES doing the research to find these gems for our cameras!

It doesn't take long to walk around such a specimen and ooh and aah.
And since Dutch weddings are done at city hall, can you imagine getting married there?

While I'm at it, we saw other stuff, coming and going,
including that colossal basilica in the middle of nowhere in Oudenbosch (remember?),
just 15 km from Klundert.

But the weathervanes still take the cake for me.  I c a n n o t  resist them.
(To be honest, I don't think Astrid can either!)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

But now, the Hoeven Abbey, which was our goal for the day!  Here's an overhead view which I found on the internet:

You enter at the bottom.

 The ground was purchased in 1282 by the abbey of Cistercienser of St. Bernard.
From then till now, it lost its Roman Catholic church function, became Protestant,
and now is the Bovendonk conference, hotel, exhibition and event center.  

 Because it's used as a conference center, it's not open to the general public,
which is why we jumped at visiting it on Open Monument Day.

Step inside and be amazed.

It was hard to know where to start, even at the very entrance.

We knew we wanted to see the chapel, of course, and eat lunch,
but the chapel wasn't open yet (recent service) and we weren't ready for lunch, so we walked around.

When we entered the courtyard, it all took my breath away.
Smack dab in front of us was the chapel...and the lunch tables...
and the chapel weathervanes....

And the cloisters clock, by architect Pierre Cuypers!
Gebruik den Tijd eer hij Ontvlied (old Dutch): 
"Use the time before it flies away."


The cloisters.  The cloisters.
Okay, so they're modern now but couldn't you be a nun/monk there?
You'd at least want to go to a seminar, right?!

By then it was time for LUNCH.
As you know, many abbeys make their own beer, but because this is no longer an abbey per se,
this Magister beer is made for it by the Scheldebrouwerij in Belgium.
We are loving trying out new beers, can you tell?

On that wonderful note, totally satisfied, the chapel was ready for viewing!

Have you noticed how ornate the floors are throughout the entire abbey,
including the chapel!

I could imagine sitting at a service here.

As we left the complex, the same way we entered, the statue out front had new meaning for me.
I made up my own story for it:  Praise and Hallelujah.

A few yards further, near the gate, Mother Nature, too, was singing her praise.
It was that kind of day.

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As an FYI, Astrid and I fly to Atlanta on Wednesday for our annual 3-week trip to see my family and friends.  We're down to counting hours....!  :)  


  1. That was quite a day. Again we saw a lot and we were at a great place. Everything about the Abby is beautiful, beautiful floors and decorations.
    The mushrooms were amazing. Wonderful pictures again.
    .....looking forward to the trip to the States...

    1. When I think of all the places we see so close to our back door, I'm just speechless, Astrid. This country is a goldmine of treasures to see! How lucky we are that we both want to see them all! :)

  2. Oh my look at these incredible buildings...I thought the first one was stunning and them each successive one was more so although I loved the clock on the first picture of the city hall

    1. These little towns and villages are chock FULL of treasure, Donna. I want to go see them all before I kick the bucket! :)

  3. i. am. literally. short. of. eyes!


  4. Such beauty and craftsmanship!

    Have a wonderful time in Atlanta!

    1. Thank you, dear Sister. I'm writing this while at London Heathrow, waiting for our long flight to Atlanta. We'll be there before we know it.

  5. I was especially caught by the sundial and clock. I have been reading a book about how our concept of time has changed since clocks & watches became common affordable household items. Alas, I’m discovering it includes much already in my book, but I’ve been especially interested in untangling the geometric complexities of sundials. I wonder how accurate the ones you’ve found have been, and, among newer ones, if they have any mechanism to nod toward “standard time.”

    As always, you find wonderful places to visit, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting with you, though again I missed the meal. Alas, while you were visiting storied monasteries, I climbed a forgotten stair well and found a lost factory shed, probably undisturbed for a quarter century. Alas, the pictures are not so inviting as yours. I didn’t dare to disturb the Rolodex:

    1. One day, Ted, I want to go on photo hunt with you. Actually, make that WE. Astrid would love it as well. I have a feeling we would all learn a lot from each other!

  6. So happy you share the goldmine of treasures with all of us! Another fabulous post! Love, love, love that old tractor weather vane!

    1. Our pleasure, Robin. We LOVE these excursions, as you know, just like you love yours! Thank you.

  7. Such superb buildings and kept beautiful with loving care. I hope you did not see any “love locks” like I saw, even on statues, in Paris last May. Another panel fell not long ago on the Pont des Arts in Paris under the weight of the locks. I just read that the city of Paris is replacing the panel with glass, so the locks won’t be able to stick to it. It will be a tremendous cost to the city to change all the panels on the bridges, but they say they will do it. I wish they could get the money from all the vandals who left the locks there in the first place.

    1. I do know the love locks are wreaking havoc on the European bridges, Vagabonde, which is such a shame, since they're quite lovely to see. (sigh) Too bad there can't be a win-win situation.

  8. Oh my! How beautiful! All of it. The cloisters! And that lunch in the courtyard: heaven.

    But the tractor weather vane!!! :D

    1. If I could have grabbed that vane for you and Don, dear Ruth, I would have done it on the spot and brought it with us to Atlanta...and then mailed it to you! :)

  9. You should do a book Ginnie. Seriously. So many themes going on, but I think a book of Weather Vanes would be fantastic.

    1. I have definitely decided to make a Dutch weathervane book, Susan, and will plan to have it ready for pick-up in America NEXT October, 2015. It makes for a good, doable goal. Thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

  10. Wait, can we buy it on Amazon or something? I think it will be a huge hit.