During the Middle Ages, St. Martin’s Cathedral—also known as the Dom Church (or Domkerk in Dutch) –was the cathedral of the Diocese of Utrecht. This was once considered as the largest church in the Netherlands which is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours.
It is one of the nation’s two pre-Reformation churches. Ever since 1580, it has been considered as a church for Protestants. This is the lone church in the Netherlands that has close resemblance to the style of the classic Gothic architecture. The building has a sole 367 ft tower named Dom Tower, which is an Utrecht trademark.
The St. Martin’s Cathedral is situated next to the Cathedral Tower in Utrecht. In the beginning, the two churches were connected, but a tornado in 1674 caused the collapse of the Cathedral’s nave.
The first chapel was established by Frankish clergy with the Merovingian kings’ support about 630. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during an assault of the Frisians. The Apostle to the Frisians constructed the second chapel committed to Saint Martin on (or near) the site of the existing structure. In the 9th century, the Normans destroyed it. In the 10th century it was rebuilt by Bishop Balderic. At this point in time, Saint Martin was the most important church in Utrecht.
In 1023, Bishop Adalbold built a Romanesque-styled church. A portion of it was again destroyed in a fire in 1253. The event motivated Bishop Henry van Vianen to put up the present gothic style construction in 1254.
In 1580, the city government of Utrecht has given the cathedral from the Diocese of Utrecht to local Calvinists. From that period, Protestant services were held in the building excluding 1672 and 1673.
In 1964, a storm caused the collapsed of the central nave. The multi-coloured stones designated in the pavement are actually the original outlines of the church.
What to Expect
Visitors are welcome to visit St. Martin’s Cathedral almost every day for free. The following are the highlights of this cathedral:
The cathedral’s interior is pretty plain but it houses a number of tombs. The long-preserved internal organs of the Emperors Conrad II and Henry IV are placed in a crypt below the choir. The fragments of a Holy Sepulcher by Gherit Splintersz are located in the ambulatory.
The cloister (14th-15th C) is placed on the south side of the cathedral. With the Pandhof, this connects the cathedral with the University of Utrecht. Above the windows are the scenes of Saint Martin.
The tower, which is fully detached from St. Martin Cathedral, was once the symbol of Episcopal influence. Dom Tower was the tallest church tower in the country and was often copied. There are two chapels in the tower; the Egmond Chapel and the St Michael’s Chapel.
How to Get There
Visiting the St. Martin Cathedral is such an easy task. You can take a 10-minute walk from the train station or you can catch a bus 2 which stops at Domplein.
If you are riding on a car, the parking facilities are available in Hoog Catharijne and Springweg. You can contact 003130-2310403 for more information.
Address & Map: