The Groningen countryside is characterised by old churches. These historic places of worship with their austere architecture and modest interiors provide an image of the old days and some are internationally known: be sure to visit the tower that leans the most in Europe, which is located in Bedum.
The leaning tower of Bedum
The Groningen churches are distinguished by their austere architecture, modest interiors and world-famous organs. The St. Walfridus church in Bedum stands out because of its leaning tower, which leans even more than the tower of Pisa. The church in Scheemda from 1515 is another jewel and was once used by the area residents as a refuge in the case of heavy weather and when the Dollard flooded.
The Der Aa church in Groningen city centre was probably built sometime around 1200 and is currently used for concerts, exhibitions, company dinners, fairs, weddings, receptions and parties. The Martini church is the highlight of Groningen and is located on the Grote Markt. The Martini tower, referred to as Old Grey by Groningen residents, can be visited by individuals as well as groups. The tower owes its nickname to its grey colour. Including the spire, the tower is 97 metres high. Its foundation is a mere three metres deep and used to consist entirely of cowhides.
The Old Groningen Churches Foundation
The Old Groningen Churches Foundation manages over sixty Groningen churches. By purchasing, renovating and maintaining these churches, the Foundation maintains this cultural heritage for Groningen as well as the access to the churches, the keys to which can often be obtained from the neighbours.
Art and culture in the churches
The Groningen churches are platforms for various events. Annually, KunstCircuit holds a series of ‘visual presentations’. At the start of the summer, the Terug naar het Begin (Back to the Start) cultural festival takes place in the churches, and at the end of the summer there is the ZomerJazzFietsTour (SummerJazzBicycleTour).
Various Groningen churchyards have been entirely restored thanks to the ‘Kerken in het groen’ (Churches in Green) project. Groningen churchyards are special because of the many grave verses next to the names and dates on the tombstones. The Op Hoogte Gedacht project deals with visual art in churchyards, with the objective of focusing attention to the historic Groningen churchyards in a special way.