Looking at cycling from a different angle

Cycling is beautiful from any view-point, but seeing people sailing by on their bicycles from atop the magnificent cathedral of ʼs-Hertogenbosch brought that beauty to another level.

A woman cycles on the Parade. That is the name of the former grave yard next to the cathedral that has become a square long ago. Long used as a parking lot the square has now become completely car free.
A woman cycles on the Parade. That is the name of the former grave yard, right next to the cathedral, that had become a square long ago. Long used as a parking lot, it has now become completely car free. Note the long shadows in the autumn sun.

It is possible that you saw this cathedral in earlier posts. It is the one where donated bicycles were blessed. Something that sparked quite a controversy, especially in the YouTube comments. Just two weeks ago I showed you people enjoying what could be this year’s last summerly ride in the nature reserve so close to the ʼs-Hertogenbosch city centre. In that video you could see the cathedral in the distance. Now I can show you the view from the roof of that cathedral. As part of the celebrations of the Jheronimus Bosch year, in which we remember that the most famous painter of the city died 500 years ago, people got the opportunity to make a wondrous climb 25 metres up to the roof of the cathedral to see the fantastic sculptures from up close, especially the 96 stone flying buttress figures. These are from about the same time the painter lived and their symbolism has connections with the work of Bosch. You never get the chance to see them because they are simply almost invisible from the ground.

The nature reserve
The green pastures of the nature reserve “Bossche Broek” can be seen from the top of the cathedral.

I climbed the temporary scaffolding on my birthday on the last day of September. The weather was still exceptionally good and seeing the 500-year-old cathedral from the outside, up so high, was a great new experience. I had not expected it to be interesting for this blog, until I looked at the people riding by. Under these conditions, from this height, in the beautiful sunshine, with the longer shadows related to the early days of autumn, the beauty of the people cycling by really moved me. No other means of transport makes moving seem so effortless and makes it so elegant and silent. I hope the video can convey some of the beauty I experienced while I was standing on the roof of the cathedral. Enjoy!

Video of the “wondrous climb”

Looking almost straight down from 25 metres up in the air gives a very different image of ordinary people doing ordinary things such as walking and cycling.
Looking past the ornate gothic pinnacles of the cathedral even the busier streets of the city centre look very peaceful.
The 96 figures sitting – literally – on the flying buttresses are facing the heaven and that makes them practically invisible from the ground. The roof is a perfect location to admire them.
I am apparently not the only one taking images from a bicycle! Dutch urban design makes that possible from the middle of the street.
One of the pinnacles of the cathedral with school children passing by on the square below. A beautiful sight.
A view on the side of the cathedral with the flying buttresses and their sitting figures, the pinnacles, the angels and the gargoyles. The temporary scaffolding is not too intrusive, but gives people a chance to reach the gutter at the base of the roof (to the right).
Some of the pinnacles have an angel standing on the top. Here we see the back of one of those angels and two people sailing by on their bicycles on the square that used to be the grave yard of the cathedral.
Two school girls cycling home. Oblivious that their picture is being taken from high above.
The cathedral of ʼs-Hertogenbosch was built between 1370 and 1529. The tower in brick is actually older than the church. Originally two towers were planned, similar to the Notre-Dame in Paris, but before the old tower could be replaced, money ran out and the reformation made such elaborate church buildings unneccessary. The two towers were never built and the roman tower of the former church was made taller. The temporary scaffolding was covered, so it doesn’t look to intrusive. The ‘wondrous climb’ will end at the end of October.

5 thoughts on “Looking at cycling from a different angle

  1. What a lovely view! I particularly liked the end when we were shown the Dutch countryside extending to the horizon.

    I am a bell ringer, so get to enjoy many such views. This is, of course, one of the great cultural divides between Dutch and English people. The Dutch tend to hang their bells dead for chiming by a single carillonneur. But the English tend to hang their bells quick for full-circle change-ringing by a team of bell ringers.

  2. My two most favorite subjects in one video together! I’ve worked for over 12 years carving for that cathedral, and whenever I had to be up there, I enjoyed the very same sights. The flying buttress statuettes are by far from the only thing of interest on this cathedral. A treat to be there in fine weather, thank you for this video!

  3. You see people where being polite about visiting religious buildings even if you don’t follow one can lead? To an excellent video about cyclists, something that almost seems as debated as the idea of cathedrals in the first place in {countries: Afghanistan… … Zimbabwe except Netherlands}.

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