As you walk around The Hague, what kinds of birds do you see? Thanks to the city’s many parks, there are a lot of ponds where ducks, swans and geese feel at home. But you can also do a spot of bird watching in unexpected places.
Walking along the Lutherse Burgwal it’s worthwhile to look up and see the swans on the roof of the Lutheran Church. They are not real live swans, of course. Rather, they are decorative features of the weather vanes that crown the ends of the roof peak. Most Protestant churches are crowned with a rooster weather vane. However, on almost any Lutheran church in The Netherlands you will find a swan. Or, as in The Hague, a couple of swans.
Why a swan?
The symbol of the swan is part of a legend. At the start of the 15th century Jan Hus, whose name literally means “goose” in the Bohemian language, was a critic of the Roman Catholic Church and gained many followers. The Church declared him a heretic and he was excommunicated and burned at the stake in 1415. Just prior to being burned at the stake, Hus was asked to recant his teachings. His response… “You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.” And as Hus predicted, a hundred years later the new reformer arrived, giving his name to a church that still exists today: Martin Luther.
Not just the swans, the whole building of the Lutheran Church is interesting. It was designed by Pieter de Swart, the architect who also gave us the Palace Lange Voorhout and the Royal Theatre. It was completed in 1761.
Although the church is the place of worship for the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of The Hague, it is also an excellent concert hall, with wonderful acoustics. The church has a magnificent organ, manufactured by a company by the name of Bätz. They were German organ builders, who came to stay in Utrecht.
During my city walk ‘Look Up’ I invite you to put your head back and look up at all the loveliness above eye level.