From derelict building to unique monument
Founded in 1342, the Grote Kerk in Veere was originally known as Onze Lieve Vrouw Ter Sneeuw. It was built as a late-gothic cross-basilica, with a tower that was supposed to become 100 metres high. The building was designed by the well-known master builders Spoorwater and Keldermans. These families also built the cathedral of Mechelen, the Markiezenhof in Bergen of Zoom and the town halls of Leuven and Middelburg.
Courage and perseverance
The Grote Kerk is a great symbol of the ambitions, courage and perseverance of the county of Zeeland. However, the tower was never competed an all the treasures have disappeared over the years. So an empty building remains, but it is filled with wonderful stories.
Hospital and beggars workshop
After the English and French sieges, the Grote Kerk lost its religious role. It became a military hospital, a workshop for beggars, a storage space and emergency stables for cattle during the deliberate flooding in the Second World War and during the Flood Disaster in 1953. No matter how badly damaged the church was, it continued to provide drinking water to the citizens of Veere until after the Second World War. The large roof and the ancient cistern collected the water. The church was also a secret place for the wife of the vicar to go cycling. It was even used as a covered football pitch and an amply sized market hall.
At the end of the 19th century, the church was rescued from being demolished by Victor de Steurs. He announced this building as the very first National Monument in the Netherlands. Today the Grote Kerk is owned by Stichting Monumenten Bezit, which is part of the Dutch National Monuments Organisation. Other buildings in Zeeland that are also part of the Stichting Monumenten Bezit are: Oostkerk in Middelburg, Sint Bavo in Aardenburg, Sint Lievensmonster tower in Zierikzee and the Scottisch houses in Veere. The Grote Kerk in Veere is now a visitors’ experience and a venue for art, culture and meeting new people.