5 things you probably didn’t know about Delft

5 things you probably didn’t know about Delft

Delft is a charming Dutch city and its name alone probably conjures up images of the famous Delfts Blauw pottery for you. Well, Delfts Blauw is not the only thing this Dutch city is known for. Here are a few facts about Delft which you probably didn’t know.

1. At the predecessor of TU Delft you received artistic training 

You heard right! Learning how to draw and sculpt was an important part of the curriculum at the Polytechnic School of Delft, the predecessor of the Delft University of Technology, which was around from 1864 to 1905.

The school offered study programmes such as civil engineering, architecture, naval architecture and mechanical engineering, amongst others. Students of the school spent their time tackling physics problems alongside artistic ones, as the school thought it important that its students also receive creative and artistic training. After all, how could architects possibly create beautiful buildings without knowledge or understanding of art?

Students at the school didn’t just have any old person teaching them art either, one of the teachers was Adolf le Comte, famous for his work by Royal Delft. Comte had a defining role when it came to decorative art for buildings and applied arts at the architecture faculty of the school.

2. Delft was the first place that workers got a pension and days off

In the 1800s, there weren't such things as days off or pension. This all changed due to one man in Delft who was committed to making the lives of the working class better: Jacques van Marken.

Marken founded the Netherlands Yeast and Spirits Factory in 1869, having learnt the yeast making process in Austria. Marken cared about his personnel and their well-being and around 1880 he set up a pension for his workers. He also reduced working hours for his staff and introduced days off.

He was extremely progressive for the time in which he lived and went one step further in 1882, when he bought four hectares of land next to his factory to build houses for his workers and to then live in one amongst them.

The area is called Agnetapark, after Marken’s wife Agneta. It was a true paradise of industry with houses and community buildings, a school, gym, dining room, an event pavilion and bakery, amongst other buildings. Residents could enjoy their free time at various clubs there too.

3. The Royals are buried there

This is a fact that you may already know. Perhaps you have even visited the New Church where they are buried on a day out in Delft, although the Dutch Royal Family Crypt is not open to the public. But, did you know that William of Orange wasn’t meant to be buried there?

He was actually meant to be buried in Breda, where his family, the Nassaus, were buried. However, at the time of his death (assassination in 1584), Breda was occupied by the Spanish and he ended up being buried at the New Church in Delft.

Members of the Dutch Royal Family who have passed away since have all been buried at the New Church as well.

4. Two-thirds of Delft once burnt down

In 1536, Delft suffered a terrible citywide fire. It occurred on May 3 and lasted three days and was probably caused by lightning which struck the New Church and then spread fast through the city.

The fire affected both the Old and New Church and around 2309 houses were destroyed and 12 chapels and monasteries went up in flames. The municipal archive was also lost in the flames and, with it, a great deal of documentation from before 1536.

After the fire, building houses from stone was a requirement. Delft has suffered a few fires since the one in 1536, but none as terrible and destructive as that one was. 

5. The first Dutch bible was printed there

Yes, not Amsterdam or another Dutch city, but Delft was the place in which the first bible in Dutch was printed in 1477. The bible only contained the Old Testament but, even so, it needed to be printed in two folio volumes, as it was 1.300 pages long.

So there you have it, five things you probably didn’t know about Delft! Which facts surprised you? Let us know in the comments!

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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