Welcome to the Mini Tours of Explore Utrecht! In the next six weeks, together with photographer Pierre Banrooi (Instagram), I will take you along in a discovery tour in the city, through pictures and words. We are going to bring you to certain places, which we feel is worth exploring.
The folklore of Katrijn (Trijn) van Leemput appeals to the imagination. In this third mini tour we will explore the city according to the narrative of her story. Have you heard of her name before? No? Then it is time to learn about her story and the area where she lived.
This story took place during the eighty-year war between the Dutch resistance and the Spaniards from 1568 to 1648. On 2 May 1577, Trijn’s husband Jan Jacobszn returned from a council meeting at the Dom. The subject of the discussion was the conquest of the Vredenburg palace from the Spaniards, followed by civillian occupation and demolition. The meeting, however, did not go as well as they expected. And when Katrijn heard this, she said, “You men spend too much time talking! Just leave it to me!” And fearless as she’d always been, Trijn walked out her house at the Oudegracht and assembled all her neighbours’ wives. Under her lead, armed with hammers, pickaxes, and anything they could find, the women marched towards the Vredenburg and started the demolition.
To remind us of her courageous act, the city errected a statue of Trijn van Leemput on the Zandbrug (a bridge), near her home at Oudegracht 17. Laid on her path, is the Wijk C, one of the oldest neighbourhood in Utrecht and a people’s neighbourhood. There is even a museum dedicated on this subject, called Het Volksbuurtmuseum. In the center of the Wijk C, you’ll find the Jacobikerk, which was founded as a Catholic parish church. Today, it is used as a Protestant church by the local community. You can visit this church during the Kerken Kijken event, from 27 June to 9 September. Although the some parts of the neigbourhood has been demolished during the construction of the Sint Jacobstraat, Wijk C remains to be a lively neighbourhood with their popular cafés, such as Ouwe Dikke Dries and Willem Slok.
If you walk towards the current Vredenburg, you might be able to imagine people walking off the castle, as well as the rammed earth and stone walls, the towers and the cannons. Pity, there isn’t much left. If you ever walk down the slope of the Vredenburg bike storage, then take a look at the window display on your right. There you will see one of the archeologic remains of the Vredenburg castle: the foundation of the eastern castle wall. And when you enter Hoog Catherine, following the sign P5, you will find yourself in the parking garage 5. Walk down to the -1 level and into the parking garage, and you will find the southern main gate. Stuck between the modern concrete, but well-preserved. Unfortunately, the rest of the remains lies under the street level, where they cannot be revealed.
As you can see, there isn’t much in Utrecht which reminds us of the story of Trijn van Leemput. But once you found them, they are worth paying attention to. Walk around the square, and you will discover a lot more.