Roermond (L): Munsterkerk
The Munsterkerk (Minster) is the most important
example of late-Romanesque architecture in the Netherlands, and
the last big Romanesque church that was ever built in this country.
Its the sole surviving part of the Cistercian convent that
was founded in 1218. Roermond at that time the primary town of
Opper-Gelre, and count Gerard of Gelre thought that such an institution
could be a major impulse in its further development. The tomb
of the count and his wife can be seen inside the church. In 1798
the French occupiers closed the convent and, after having being
used as a barracks, all the buildings except for the church were
demolished in 1924.
The church itself was altered several times, and owes much of
its current looks to several extensive restorations annex reconstructions
that lasted from 1863 until 1890, and were executed by architect
Cuypers. This architect had already restored the inside of
the choir of this church in 1850, with the help of his brother
Henri who repainted it. But as especially the roofs were in a
very bad state, a more serious restoration was needed. In order
to get the needed money, it was even implied that the church
was of national importance for its tomb of the count and countess
of Gelre, who at that time were often still believed to have
been related to the Nassaus, predecessors of the current royal
family. Cuypers himself donated large sums.
Cuypers' plans for the old church were radical, to say the least.
The church was to be restored to a state that once was or could
have been. At the western part, a Baroque tower from the 18th
century was removed. Instead two towers in Romanesque style were
added. These were put on top of what Cuypers interpreted as lower
segments of originally planned but unfinished towers. In an earlier
plan he intended to addl ower octagonal towers instead of these
tall square ones. The two eastern towers were heightened in a
similar style, with the original octagonal upper parts being
removed. The 17th-century crossing-tower was retained, although
gables were added. Cuypers also changed the spire on top of the
dome. Cuypers' friend E.E. Viollet-le-Duc advised to replace
the entire dome by a 'Gothic' spire, an advise that was not followed.
The interior was replaced in neo-Gothic style, a measure made
undone between 1959 and 1964, during a restoration by the office
of H. Huisintveld and F. Deltrap, the successors of the Cuypers
Cuypers plans lead to a controversy immediately. Fellow architect
Weber was one of the more prominent of Cuypers opponents.
He had studied the church, and restoring it himself had been
his deepest wish. The dispute ultimately lead to Cuypers decision
to leave Roermond and move to Amsterdam.
Weber at the end of his career designed several churches that
were clearly influenced by the Roermond Minster, ironically including
elements from Cuypers restoration. Cuypers took his inspiration
for the restoration from other late-Romanesque churches of the
Rhineland, a group of which the Roermond Minster is the sole
example in the Netherlands. A typical feature is the cloverleaf-shaped
eastern part of the church. This is the oldest part of the building,
it must have been completed ca. 1224, and has a choir with a
half round apse with dwarfgallery. This part of the church is
closely related to that of the church in nearby Neuss, Germany,
work on which was started in 1209. Attached to the apse are three
radiating chapels. The apses of the transept-arms are polygonal.
In 1992 the church was damaged by an earthquake which destroyed
the two eastern towers, which were rebuilt since.