The earliest church on this site dated to around 600 AD. A second church was built 139 years later which was destroyed by Norman invaders in the 9th Century and reconstructed in the 10th at which time it became a Cathedral for the first time.
The church then went through an unfortunate cycle of destruction and rebuilding and church of 1023 was destroyed in 1253 in a fire which swept through Utrecht and at this point it was decided to build a Gothic style Cathedral, work commencing in 1254.
The Dom Tower, the most distinctive feature of the Cathedral, was begun in 1321 and finished in 1382. Money ran out in 1515 and so the Cathedral was never completed. Then in 1572 the Calvinists arrived in Utrecht and much of the decoration inside the church was ripped out.
In August 1674 the nave of the Cathedral collapsed during a storm. The next few centuries continued the neglect of the Cathedral and the Dom Tower soon became a free standing structure. In 1836 the top storey of the Dom Tower was heavily damaged in another storm and for some time demolition was considered. However, by that time some respect for the structure had been regained and so it was restored instead. The church, which is still not attached to the Tower, was restored a few years later.
Today it is hard to imagine Utrecht without the Dom Tower which dominates most views of the Old Town and at long last the building is being given the care it deserves.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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