#8 – Bridges

#08 – Bridges
#09 – Cityscapes and Skylines
#10 – Coffee

Welcome to the Netherlands, the delta of the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt. Following very negative figures in recent international climate reports, the Dutch government has recently corrected them with more optimistic numbers: 26% of the Netherlands lies below sea level. Only 59% of the Netherlands is susceptible to flooding by sea or rivers (source: Planbureau voor de leefomgeving). Let’s not beat around the numeral bush and be very clear about the Low countries: without dunes, sea barrier and river dikes we would all be living in house boats.

Ergo, most Dutch towns somehow have to deal with water. To cross water, you’ll need a bridge. And yes, this is highlight #8 in Ten Things to Love about Dutch Towns. Holland has regular bridges you’ll find everywhere, but some have distinctive features. Most typical is the draw bridge like the one we got on camera in Vollenhove, a former port of the Zuiderzee (now IJsselmeer)

Dutch Draw Bridge

Draw Bridge Vollenhoven harbour

Or the characteristic Korenmarktbrug (Grain market bridge) in Leiden:

Koornburg, Leiden

A more modern bridge in Haarlem:

Spaarne bridge, Haarlem

Watch out for even more really famous bridges when we reach Arnhem and Maastricht!

Some bridges even have poems. This is the most famous one about the Martinus Nijhoff bridge near Zaltbommel. The current bridge is named after the author of this poem:

(The Missis (Typical Dutch expression)

Ik ging naar Bommel om de brug te zien. I went to Bommel to see the bridge.
Ik zag de nieuwe brug. Twee overzijden I saw the new bridge. Two opposite sides
die elkaar vroeger schenen te vermijden that seemingly used to avoid each other
worden weer buren. Een minuut of tien become neighbours again. About ten minutes
dat ik daar lag, in ‘t gras, mijn thee gedronken as I lay there in the grass, had my tea
mijn hoofd vol van het landschap wijd en zijd- my head full of the countryside wide and far
laat mij daar midden uit de oneindigheid in the midst of eternity I hear
een stem vernemen dat mijn oren klonken. a voice resounding in my ears.

Het was een vrouw. Het schip dat zij bevoer kwam It was a woman. The ship she sailed
langzaamaan stroom af door de brug gevaren. came slowly downstream through the bridge.
Zij was alleen aan dek, zij stond bij ‘t roer, She was alone on dek, she was at the helm.

en wat zij zong hoorde ik dat psalmen waren. and I heard her singing psalms.
O, dacht ik, o dat daar mijn moeder voer. O, I thought, o if that were my mother sailing.

Prijs God zong zij, Zijn hand zal u bewaren. Praise the Lord, she sang, His Hand shall keep you.

Martinus Nijhoff


3 thoughts on “#8 – Bridges

  1. Pingback: Bikes and Dikes « judefensor

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