under construction


Under the tower, stories live

We live with stories and enjoy telling them to each other. Stories originate when people get togeth-er and pass them on. Years ago people from Fryslân got together on the mounds. Fleeing the water but also to collect fresh water from the community well. That is why many churches are built on a mound. Some are still in service as a House of God but some also serve as galleries, theatres, shops, houses or are simply empty. They will however always be buildings full of stories. Religious stories, but also stories about big or small happenings in the community that are told again and again.


A plaquette that reminds  us of the ‘Allerheiligenvloed’  (high tide) that happened in 1570 hangs in the church in Metslawier, the capital of former Oost-Dongeradeel.  Some 1801 people drowned  and others fled to the church on the mound to escape the water.  This story has recently been told again and has been performed during an open air play next to the church.

In Easterwierrum the memory of five boys that skated into a hole in the frozen canal next to the church is often retold.  Four of the boys drowned.  A month later, the fifth boy, who had survived saw five swans flying out of the water at the same place where the accident had happened. One of the swans flew in a different direction.

The matriarch of our monarchy, Maria Louise, is buried in the Grote Jacobijnekerk in Leeuwarden. During the French revolution in 1795, her grave was violated by an angry mob. Her bones were used as drum sticks and her skull as a football. The parts that remained were buried again, only years later Maria Louise’s skull was delivered by post to the church. Two skulls now lie in the tomb in the Grote Kerk in Leeuwarden.


The initiators of Under the Toer believe that these different stories told about churches will lead to interesting projects. Manifestations in which artists from different art disciplines can work together with the community, reminiscing and depicting the special stories of/near their church. They have spoken to Vergers (key holders of the church) and artists who live in Fryslân  and they believe it is possible to enthuse 30 artists, 30 churches and 30 associations to  depict these distinctive stories in 2018.


During the conversations with residents and artists, initiators realised that many church communities keep in touch with churches elsewhere in Europe. This is where the idea arose that during the year of the European Cultural Capital, another European church will be involved for each of the 30 Under the Tour projects.