Grote Kerk or St Bavokerk, Haarlem

The most striking building in the Grote Markt is the 140m/460ft long Grote Kerk or St Bavokerk, a Late Gothic cruciform basilica with a slender 40m/130ft high tower over the crossing. The building of the church extended over a long period, beginning with the erection of the choir in the 14th century. In the mid 15th century the transepts were added by Spoorwater, a master builder from Antwerp. Around 1475 the old nave was replaced by a new one, 125m/410ft long, flanked by two low, narrow aisles. The tower (now equipped with a carillon by the Hemony brothers which rings every evening) was built about 1520, and the timber vaulting of the choir and nave was completed in 1536. The cedar ceiling of the nave - finely constructed as only a nation of shipbuilders could contrive - is borne on 28 round piers. The baptistery on the south side of the church (1593) and the consistory room (1658) were added after the Reformation.
Official site:
Address: Oude Groenmarkt, Netherlands

Grote Kerk or St Bavokerk Highlights

Grote Kerk Interior

Most of the interior furnishings of the church date from before the Reformation, including the choir and its lectern (1499), the beautifully carved choir-stalls (1512) and the brass choir screen (1509-17). In front of the former chapel of the seamen's guild hang three old models of Dutch warships, a 17th century frigate and pinnace and a 16th century armed merchant ship. The piers under the tower and in the choir are covered with 15th-16th century paintings depicting symbols of the Apostles, the guilds and church doctrine. In the choir are buried Frans Hals (d. 1666) and Lieven de Key. After the Reformation a small organ was installed in the choir in 1600, followed in 1679 by a pulpit carved by Abraham Snellaert. The pulpit is borne on eagles' wings (the eagle being the symbol of St John the Evangelist), and its brass rails are decorated with snakes, symbolizing Satan's flight before the Word of God.

Müller Organ

The Grote Kerk has one of the great organs of the world, built by Christian Müller in 1735-38, with a monumental organ-case by the woodcarver and sculptor Jan van Logteren. Over the years the bellows, the mechanics and the keys of the organ have been frequently overhauled and adapted to the musical taste of the time. It has three manuals, 68 stops and 5,000 pipes, the largest of which is 10m/33ft long, with a diameter of 40cm/16in. Both for its acoustic qualities and its rich decoration it ranks among the world's finest organs. Among those who have played the organ are Handel and Mozart and, in more recent times, Albert Schweitzer. In July of alternate years an international organ competition is held in the town.

Grote Kerk Müller Organ Recitals

There are regular organ recitals in the Grote Kerk on the church's famous organ built by Christian Müller.

Statue in Grote Kerk

Below the Müller organ is a monumental piece of sculpture (by Jan Baptist Xaverij, 1738), carved from a single block of white marble, with allegorical representations of Poetry, Music and Eternity.

International Organ Competition

There is an International Organ Competition in St Bavokerk
This annual competition runs through June and July.
Haarlem's St Bavokerk - Floor plan map Haarlem's St Bavokerk Map

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