From Delft we pedaled down to the Port of Rotterdam and caught the waterbus to Kinderdijk. The largest collection of original water pumping windmills. It was a beautiful day. We had a rest stop at a picnic grove and Fred told us about the history of the pumps. We learned a lot about the way the windmill keepers lived – totally self-sufficient with gardens and mini-farms and making use of everything. Everywhere there were cropped willow trees, whose thin branches were used to weave all kinds of things from fish traps to fences, and of course the reeds that were made for thatch roofs.
Then the massive interior gears and workings to keep the huge sails turning in winds from slight to massive storms.
From Kinderdijk we pedaled on to Gouda. Our mooring was only a few blocks from the massive city center market square with its huge, intimidating state house.
In the morning we had time to explore the beautiful stained glass windows of Sint Janskerk (John the Baptist) …… – the largest collection of original medieval stained glass in Holland dating from 1555. How did these massive windows survive WW II? Each of the nearly 200 windows was disassembled and stored in huge crates in cellars, to be reassembled when peace was finally declared. These windows are so unusual because each tells a story of history… not just the standard Bible stories, but stories of the struggles for freedom and allegories. Especially interesting is the Freedom of Conscience (essentially freedom of religion) window with its representation of the virtues and vices – all the virtues are female and the vices male! Another ironic window shows the Spanish nobility as participating in the last supper and being introduced to Jesus.
One huge window was donated by the city of Haarlem which was the largest province in the 1500. It tells the story of Haarlem’s role in the Crusades and the conquest of the Egyptian port of Damietta in the 13th century. Haarlem’s motto is Virtue over Violence.
The creation of stained glass windows was temporarily halted in 1572 following Gouda’s decision to side with the Protestant faction in the Eighty Years’ War, but the process was resumed a few years later with windows of a different and more worldly character. As a result, the church features stained glass windows from both Roman Catholic and Protestant donors – a highly unusual combination.