Sunday, September 13, 2009

annals of justice.... (5) dordrecht city hall

On the top floor of the city hall of Dordrecht, Netherlands, these cells were used in the 18th century to detain culprits. The famous Houdini, chained naked into one of the cells, however, managed to free himself in only a couple of minutes....
Unfortunately, the cells also did not detain these members of the magistrate, who decided, in 1962, to sacrifice big parts of a more or less completely preserved medieval city to the automotive folly. One of the buildings to be destroying would have been Dordrecht's biggest church or at least its steeple, which was in a state of disrepair. With 36m, its ship is only one meter shorter than Notre Dame in Paris and the space would have made for a nice parking lot....
The church contains the last completely preserved choir stalls of the Netherlands which are beautifully carved after etchings of Albrecht Duerer, Hans Sebald Behaim and others
The churchmen were seated on chairs carved with children fighting each other or a drunk imprisoned in a wooden block Fortunately, the madmen were stopped in 1972. Although a lot of damage was done by then, 1000 registered monuments and countless other historic buildings survived. 59 of them were open to visit last weekend. The magistrate now fights with the legacy of the damages planned in only 10 years between 1962 and 1972. Cornelis and Johan de Witt can look down on their city with pride

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