January 13, 2012

0098 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / Zeeland) - A beautiful basilica, pursued by bad luck

Although in nowadays is a small town with only 28,000 inhabitants, Hulst (Holly in English), located to the east of Zeelandic Flanders, approximately 30km east of Antwerp, was in the Middle Ages an important seaport and a town coveted by many. After it received city rights in 1180, it has developed rather in tranquility until the Eighty Years' War, or the Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648), between the Seventeen Provinces (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, North of France and a small part of Western Germany) and Spain, which held these lands from the time of Charles V. It was successfully besieged by the Dutch in 1591, but Spain took it back in 1596, for that in 1645 the Dutch army to recapture it, after it had failed 5 years before. In 1702 it withstood a siege again, but in 1747 fell into the hands of the French. Meanwhile a star fort was constructed, the fortifications being a historic example of Dutch fortress architecture. On the other hand, the colmation of the harbour in the 17th century has reduced the city's commercial importance.

Currently, Hulst, considered "the most Flemish city" of Zeeland, with a burgundy lifestyle and a dialect similar rather to those from the north of Waasland than from those surrounding, attracts many Belgians tourists. Among attractions include also Sint-Willibrordusbasiliek (Saint Willibrord's Basilica), the one shown in the picture, considered by some the most beautiful church in the Netherlands. Founded in the 10th century as a Romanesque church, it was rebuilt in its current form starting from 1462, in Brabantine Gothic style, under the supervision of architect Spoorwater Everaert. A fire broke out during the construction, causing extensive damage, and furthermore Spoowater died in 1474, before completion of the work. The construction resumed in 1481, this time under the supervision of architect Herman Waeghemaekere of Antwerp, and eventually was completed by Laurens II Keldermans in 1535.

Destroyed by a lightning in 1668, the tower was rebuilt in 1724 in classical style, but in 1876 a fire destroyed it again, being restored to the plans of Pierre Cuypers. During the WWII it suffered again great damage, and in 1957 a contest was held for the project, won by Jan Brouwer. However, it still retains design elements belonging to Cuypers, and fragments of the tower built in the 15th century are still visible.

The patron of the church is Saint Willibrord (c. 658–739), a Northumbrian missionary, the first Bishop of Utrecht, known as the "Apostle to the Frisians". Originally Roman Catholic, after the Eighty Years War became reformed and remained so until Napoleon, when it was divided between Catholics and Protestants. Since 1930 it became entirely Catholic, Pope Pius XI bringing it to the rank of basilica.

About the stamp

The stamp is part of Green Progress set (issued on August 16, 2011, and designed by Gesina Roters), which illustrate the green initiatives in Netherlands. The images are hand drawn combinations of words and pictures. Each illustration has been built on a simple 'iconic' symbol on the second face is made up of typography: a sense that it empowers all content. Each stamp has a solid background color with a subtle gradient. Some stamps also in the artwork itself a gradient is visible. The 12 stamps have the following themes:

• Nice and clean with less water and electricity
• Netherlands is building a sustainable future (green busy)
• Green post good news
• Humans and animals are happy with organic
• Green energy is the wind (solar, hydro, bio)
• Isolation of a green environment
• The new work: Green gains for people and nature
• Travel Green shows the relaxed environment (climate) - it’s on another postcard
• Recycling gives new leven
• Snel ahead with electric vehicles (hybrid)
• Europe gives green light / from Europe - it’s on this postcard
• Think green for a green world / from outside Europe - it’s on another postcard

Sender: Monique (postcrossing)
Send from Hulst (Zeeland / Netherland) on 01.01.2012

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