Dom Tower of Utrecht

Coordinates: 52°05′26″N 5°07′17″E / 52.09065°N 5.12140°E / 52.09065; 5.12140
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Dom Tower
Dom Tower, with the remaining part of the cathedral in the background
LocationUtrecht, Netherlands
Geographic coordinates52°05′26″N 5°07′17″E / 52.09065°N 5.12140°E / 52.09065; 5.12140
TypeChurch tower
Completed1382 (1382)
Height (max)112.32 m (368.5 ft)
Designated as NHLDutch rijksmonument #36075

The Dom Tower (Dutch: Domtoren 'Cathedral Tower') of Utrecht is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands,[1] at 112.32 metres (368,5 feet) in height.[2] It is considered the symbol of Utrecht.[1] The tower was part of St. Martin's Cathedral, also known as the Dom Church, and was built between 1321 and 1382,[1] to a design by John of Hainaut.[3] The cathedral was never fully completed due to lack of money. Since the unfinished nave collapsed in 1674, the Dom tower has been a freestanding tower. The tower stands at the spot where the city of Utrecht originated almost 2,000 years ago.[1]

Design and construction[edit]

Its construction led preacher Geert Groote to protest against the vanity of such an immense project, suggesting it was too tall, too expensive and all but aesthetic.[4]

The tower consists of two square blocks, topped by a much lighter lantern. One of the most striking features is the absence of visible buttresses. Upon completion in 1382 the tower stood 109 metres tall.[5] However the height was increased during the restorations in 1910, to its present height of 112.5 metres.[6]

The Dom tower was a multifunctional building. In addition to being a belfry, it contained a private chapel of the Bishop of Utrecht on the first floor. It also served as a watchtower; the tower guard was housed on the second floor of the lower square block.[7]

Carillonneurs of the Dom Tower of Utrecht[edit]

The Dom tower has a carillon in its building. There were many operators of the Carillon spanning from the 16th century to now.

Here is a list of all the carillonneurs that played in the Dom tower:

Years Carillonneur
1 1594-1606 Daniël van Berlicom
2 1606-1611 Jan van Groenenberg
3 1611-1623 Gijsbert van Berlicom
4 1623-1624 Herman van Riemsdijk
5 1625-1657 Jonkheer Jacob van Eyck
6 1657-1666 Johan Dicx
7 1666-1700 Carel Valbeek
David Slichtenhorst
8 1700-1708 Jacob Han
9 1708-1709 Gerard Han (father of Jacob Han)
10 1709-1721 Jacob Han
11 1721-1733 Johan Han (brother of Jacob Han)
12 1733-1737 Rutgerus ten Hengel
13 1737-1778 Johan Philip Albrecht Fischer
14 1778-1840 Frederik Nieuwenhuyzen
15 1840-1879 Willem Johan Frederik Nieuwenhuysen
16 1879-1894 J.A.H. Wagenaar I
17 1894-1943 J.A.H. Wagenaar II
18 1937-1953 J.A.H. Wagenaar III
19 1954-1985 T.C. (Chris) Bos
20 1985-2011 Arie Abbenes
21 2011- Małgosia Fiebig


Dom Church as it looked prior to 1674, with the nave still standing. Etching after Steven van Lamsweerde, 1660.
Dom Tower from the northwest
Dom Tower in evening light

The Dom Tower has an exceptional peal of fourteen ringing bells, weighing 32 tonnes in total. In 1505 Geert van Wou, then the most famous bell-founder of the Netherlands, made a harmonious peal of thirteen bells.[8] The seven smallest bells, sold in 1664 to finance the new carillon, were replaced in 1982 with new bells by Eijsbouts. The largest bell, the Salvator, has a weight of 8,200 kg and a diameter of 227 cm.[8] Together with the fourteenth bell, they form the largest existing homogeneous group of medieval bells.[citation needed] The cathedral's bells are still rung by hand by members of the Utrecht Bellringers Guild.[9]

In 1625, Jacob van Eyck became carillon player of the Dom Tower. In 1664, a new carillon was installed by Juriaan Sprakel of Zutphen,[10] with a mechanism consisting of 35 chimes,[11] made by the brothers Pieter and François Hemony.[10] In 1972 the carillon was restored and extended to 50 bells. The current player is Małgosia Fiebig[12]

Storm damage[edit]

The cathedral's nave was never completely finished,[13] and on the night of August 1, 1674, a tornado destroyed this part of the cathedral, but the tower was undamaged.[14]

The remaining section of the church and the tower were never reconnected, and the Domplein Square now separates the two structures. In the summer of 2004, however, a mock nave was constructed out of scaffolding to commemorate the missing link. The floorplan of the missing section is shown by the multicoloured paving of the square.

In 1836 the top floor of the tower was heavily damaged in a storm and demolition of the tower was seriously considered. However, it was subsequently restored, a process which took five years.[11]

Tourism and weddings[edit]

The tower has its own visitor centre, RonDom (which refers to both the Dutch word rond or rondom, meaning around or surrounding and the name of the church - emphasised by the capital D), which is located in the square. As well as stocking a range of souvenirs,[15] they organise a number of activities centred on the tower, including regular guided tours which allow people to climb the 465 steps to the top of the Dom Tower.[1][11] On a clear day it is possible to see both Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The booking office for guided tours is located in the square at the foot of the tower. It is also possible to get married in the tower.[11]

Radio DOM (1999)[edit]

Radio DOM was an automatic radio-station located on the Dom tower in Utrecht, which from 3 June 1999 until 3 October 1999 broadcast an audio 'soundscape' based on the sounds of the city of Utrecht. Radio DOM got its inputs from six computer-controlled surveillance microphones installed at a height of 80 metres on the Dom tower, which constantly scanned the central area of the city. The sound signals picked up by these microphones were algorithmically combined into a continuously varying soundscape which was broadcast 24 hours a day by an FM radio transmitter installed on the Dom tower.[16]

Broadcast on 102.3 MHz FM, Radio DOM was part of the exhibition Panorama 2000, organised by the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.[16]

Local planning restrictions[edit]

Until recently, the unwritten rule in evaluating planning applications in the city of Utrecht was that no building could be built that exceeded the Dom Tower in height.[17] This restriction seems to have been dispensed for plans in the developing suburban area in the west of Utrecht (Leidsche Rijn) and a skyscraper of 262 metres in height has been proposed, challenging this long-standing tradition.[18] The plans for this tower, however, were cancelled in 2010 due to the economic crisis.[19]


A replica of the Dom Tower has been constructed in the Dutch themed amusement park; Huis Ten Bosch (theme park) at Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan. Google Street View


Panorama of Utrecht by Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot, ca. 1630 (Centraal Museum, Utrecht)
Panorama of Utrecht by Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot, ca. 1630 (Centraal Museum, Utrecht)
Panorama of Utrecht with the Dom and the Buurkerk, 2008
Panorama of Utrecht with the Dom and the Buurkerk, 2008

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Province Utrecht". 2011-03-16. p. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  2. ^ "Dom Tower". Archived from the original on 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  3. ^ "Domtower History (translated from Dutch)". Utrechts Klokkenluiders Gilde. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  4. ^ R.R. Post, Geert Grote's tractaat 'Contra turrim traiectensem' teruggevonden (The Hague, 1967
  5. ^ Reconstruction of height based on measurements drawings in Haakma Wagenaar, Memorandum Domtoren (Utrecht, 1975).
  6. ^ Current height without cross and vane is 106.75 meters. This figure does not represent the height of the tower before 1910. See Haslinghuis and Peeters, De Dom van Utrecht (The Hague, 1965), p. 416
  7. ^ Haslinghuis and Peeters, De Dom van Utrecht (The Hague, 1965), p. 435-440
  8. ^ a b "UKG - Utrechts Klokkenluiders Gilde NL - Information in English". Archived from the original on 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  9. ^ "UKG Activities (translated from Dutch". Utrechts Klokkenluiders Gilde. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  10. ^ a b "The Carillon: Playing Techniques". Essential Vermeer. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  11. ^ a b c d "Domtoren/RonDom". UtrechtYourWay. Archived from the original on 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  12. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Domtoren Clock Tower Plays the Marble Machine Song, retrieved 2019-11-07
  13. ^ "Domtower(translated from Dutch". Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  14. ^ Katrin Hauer & Niki Pfeifer (2011). "Reporting on historical severe storms: Two examples of Utrecht(1674) and Abtenau(1796)". Atmospheric Research. 100 (4): 580–585. Bibcode:2011AtmRe.100..580H. doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2010.08.007.
  15. ^ "Domtoren Homepage (translated from Dutch)". Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  16. ^ a b "Radio Dom". Institute of Artificial Art. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  17. ^ " - Hoogbouwvisie - Alles over de Hoogbouwvisie". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
  18. ^ " - Hoogbouwvisie - de 10 meest gestelde vragen". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
  19. ^ "Tallest building of the Netherlands cancelled". 24 January 2010.

External links[edit]