Oh my ... leaning!
Welcome at the Oldehove, one of the most severe leaning towers of the Netherlands. Since centuries this explicit structure is the trademark of the city Leeuwarden. At this moment it is a special historical attraction. Challengingly leaning! So come see and climb it!
The Oldehove derives its name from the hillock where it is build on in the middle ages. With two other hillocks near the Ee, it was the centre of the old Leeuwarden. In those days the hillock was located at the estuary of the Middlesea, a large bay that divided the northern part of Friesland in two. The first population already settled it self here before the beginning of or era..
Oh my ... Leaning!
When Leeuwarden became the capital of Friesland in 1504, the desire for a big church with high allure raised. It had to be higher then the Martinitoren build previous in Groningen. Constructor Jacob van Aaken was aware of the risk of building on the Frisian clay. During the build, he used hard chalk- and firm clay layers for the foundation. He strengthened the wide stand of the tower with large protruding buttresses. Unfortunately without success. When the tower was ten meters high the tower started to sink in the north-western direction! The cause of this all was the huge weight of the staircase in combination with the soft turf layer underneath the foundation. The builders started to build dead straight on the skew basis. The effect of this was not only a leaning but also a curving tower. Constructor Jacob van Aaken died during the build, history tells us he suffered too much from the misfortunes. Construction stopped one year later. The result was a forty meters high uncompleted building that was one and a halve meter out of balance. At this moment the Oldehove is leaning 1.85 meters away from its original place!
Restoration after restoration
The Oldehove kept on worrying the population.
A short list of the restoration works over the passed centuries:
- 1730: Replacement of the roof. It was ruined by fire and replaced with a flat roof of
- 1816: Replacing the brickwork on the roof with wood covered with led;
- 1910-'11: The first important restoration. Twenty-seven heavy anchors were installed, cracks in the walls were repaired and the clocks were installed in a new steal construction;
- 1960: The Oldehove was in an unacceptable condition. A lot of loose brickwork and
rotten beams caused problems;
- 1972: The start of the restoration in cooperation with the state service for monuments.
All kinds of new processes are adapted like treatment of the roof beams with fibreglass
and epoxy resin;
- Winter 1973-'74: A heartened construction box is placed surrounding the middle of the
tower. The spire is placed on top;
- 1997: Completion of the last radical restoration.
The Oldehove has two clocks. The big clock weighs 4500 kilo and is made in the clock construction company of Hans Falck van Neurenberg. The clock placed in the lower part of the tower is made in Antwerpen, in 1541. They named it "The Lion" (in Dutch: "de Leeuw").
In 2005 the construction started of a parking garage under the "Oldehoofsterkerkhof". Research in the excavation area pointed out that the hillock on which the Oldehove was build, was earlier a central hillock with some expansions. The excavated structures are deepened workshops or sheds with turf walls.
Accompanying houses were not found. They did find some wells. Very special was the discovery of some parts of a farm build in Roman ages! This is the oldest finding of historical buildings in the centre of Leeuwarden.
The location where the Oldehove is standing is called Oldehoofsterkerkhof. This was the first important cemetery in Leeuwarden. Many citizens of Leeuwarden were burried here ever since the early middle ages. Years later a school for the poor was build on the cemetery. Between 1934 and 1968 the Oldehoofsterkerkhof was kept in use as local distribution centre. In 1968-'69 the area got lowered. In the pavement of the Oldehoofsterkerkhof a map was created of the Saint Vitus church (in Dutch: Sint Vituskerk). Since then this area is used as a parking lot, first above the ground and from 2007 als subterranean.
A visit to the Oldehove is possible between 30 April and 1 October.
Opening hours: 1 pm till 5 pm on Tuesday to Sunday.
€ 3 for adults € 1,50 for kids until 12 year
For groups there is a special price, more information is available at the HCL (Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden)
Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden:
The Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden is located at Groeneweg 1, Leeuwarden
For further information please visit our website on http://www.historischcentrumleeuwarden.nl/ or download the full story or our flyer as a PDF-file.