Monday, September 22, 2014

Open Monument Day

Every second weekend of September is Open Monument Day in the Netherlands when approximately 4,000 historical buildings and sites are open to the public free of charge.  We'd be stupid if we didn't take advantage of that, right????

So, last weekend, we took advantage of two places here in Gorinchem, within walking distance from our apartment, and then on Sunday drove to nearby Hoeven (next post).

Our goal for Saturday was only one place:  the Toll House on the periphery of our citadel walk.  Back in its day, ships passing by on the Merwede river had to pay taxes at the toll house to...pass by.  Hard to imagine?  Think about our toll roads in America, which is basically the same idea.

 This is what the Gorinchem layout (citadel) looked like in 1649.

This is what it looks like today, with the majority of Gorinchem's 35K population outside the citadel.
Astrid and I are lucky to live inside the citadel, which is the "old" city center.

From the citadel walk (bottom-center) you see past the toll house to our grote kerk inside the citadel.
Inside the citadel the toll house looks like...a house, built in 1598 (top-right).
The handy thing is you can tell what's open to the public by the Open Monument flag.

What we didn't know is that the toll house is now used by the Syndion non-profit group.
Syndion helps to mainstream adults with disabilities.
In fact, our favorite café here in Gorinchem, Metropole, hires disabled servers who wait on the tables.
(The café above is in the toll house, not the Metropole, for clarification.)
We LOVE the Syndion concept.

 So when we discovered the toll house is a place for the disabled to chill, we were thrilled.

Sometimes the "disabled" put the abled to shame, don't you think?

Thank God all this creativity has not gone to waste!

It makes me want to get out my own "paintbrushes" to start creating!

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It so happens that we had an appointment in the afternoon and started out on our way home after the toll house, to eat lunch and get ready.  But much to our surprise....

...we saw another Open Monument flag and decided to check it out.
Guess what?  It was the Freemason lodge of Gorinchem, which I never even knew existed!
Who knew it was a national monument!
And after all the years of "secrecy" I had experienced about the Masons, 
I was not going to miss this chance to see as much as I could.

Very nice gentlemen were available to tell us everything we wanted to know,
without giving away secrets, which they explained were more inside each individual person.
Know thyself.  Conscience.  The Eye of God.
Sounds like something we all want, right?

To see and enter what I thought was their Holy of Holies rendered me speechless.

The Square and Compass are everywhere, of course, the most universal freemason symbols.
 The Square is for virtue, to "sqaure our actions by the square of virtue with all mankind."
The Compass exemplifies "our wisdom of conduct, the strength to circumscribe our desires 
and keep our passions within due bounds."

So, why don't they allow women??!  HA!

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 While coming and going, we saw all those things that are "old hat" by now.
But sometimes I pay attention to them again, as though seeing them for the first time.
(My new 1200mm camera helps, of course.)

This is where we live and we love it here.
How many times have you heard me say that?!

And while I'm on the subject of where we live,
here are some more weathervanes while out-n-about on any given day.


  1. Wow! What a fun-filled and packed day!! I too love the idea of the Syndion concept! Great posting...I always learn so much!

    1. Thank you, Robin. Besides taking you on the citadel walk the NEXT time you come (still can't believe we didn't do it the last time!), we want to take you to the Metropole for lunch. Every time we're there, we think of you and others who would love it. Very soulful.

  2. We got our education that day and I really enjoyed those two visits. Just within walking distance, it still blows my mind.
    Absolute fabulous pictures. And to be able to enter the most 'holy' part of the Freemasons. Amazing.
    Next time for sure we take Robin for a nice walk on the citadel and eat at Metropole.

    1. I know I keep repeating myself but we really are lucky to live where we live!

  3. Free is the perfect word...I find the Freemasons so interesting.

  4. What a wonderful adventure that you took us on in this walk through the free monument day Ginnie....
    there are so many thing that you showed us... i have never seen the inside of a Freemason Lodge...
    i don't think that they invite too many Catholics in... i love your picture of the inside the lodge and every other group... and of course the paint brushes that brought me here in the first place...
    there are so many pictures in that tin of brushed....peter:)

    1. Thanks for visiting me here at my "diary blog," Peter, as a jump-off from my SC image. I think it would be fun for SCers to see my posts here and try to pick out the pics they think I will use for SC. :)

      And yes, I still can't believe we actually went inside a Freemason lodge!!!