While hubby met and worked with his Dutch counterpart, I explored the city.
I've always had a fascination with cathedrals. My family of origin are first generation Polish immigrants and I traveled back to Poland several times as a minor. My interest in history piqued in high school and since then I've always specifically visited old churches whenever I am travelling.
When we arrived in Eindhoven I found two old churches that I would like to visit; St George's and St Catherine's. Both are beautiful but actually relatively young when it comes to old churches, as they were both completed in the mid to late 1800's. St. Catherine's, however, has an incredibly unique history that I couldn't help but do a ton of internet research after leaving there!
I set out for a walk in the afternoon, without any real plans on where I would go. I ended up in this plaza in the medieval town center of Eindhoven and found St. Catherine's Church (Sint Catharinakerk). The beautiful church had a large plaza with several benches, so I took the opportunity to sit, be still and look. Not an opportunity I get too often with two little girls! The construction of the version that we see today began in 1861 and was completed in 1867. It is in the same location as the original St Catherine Church, which was mentioned as early as 1232. Throughout history the original church was the target of several acts of war and the new one replaced it.
As I walked around the plaza I noticed that the pavement stones were modern. I found an outdoor exhibition that talked about the archaeological significance of this plaza. In 2002 the city began replacing the plaza stones to lay the new ones we see today. They found that the entire plaza around the church was a forgotten graveyard, where Eindhoven residents had been buried over the course of 600 years. At some point in history the graveyard was abandoned and paved over and forgotten. This grave site includes higher nobility Eindhoven Black Plague victims. The archaeologists are currently working on an amazing study to link the DNA from these skeletons to aid in HIV research. Individuals with Northern Europe descent posses a DNA variant that has been found to be HIV resistant. Those who possess this variant have been found to have a 70% lower risk of of HIV infection vs those who do not have it. Using the preserved DNA (which by all accounts should not even be present due to the acidity of the soil) researchers are trying to find a connection.
Amazing, unexpected story, right? Even though it was the first large church that I visited during our travels it still remains my favorite. I spent hours inside the church just looking at all the statues, gorgeous stained glass and reading on the archaeological exhibition.
I also unexpectedly found St. George's Church while walking around. St. George was built between 1884-1885 but unfortunately I wasn't able to find any other history in English.
The following day I visited the Phillips Museum. Phillips; as in Phillips light bulbs, radios, anything you can plug in. Including my electric toothbrush. This humongous company started in little Eindhoven and they have a great museum that includes housing part of the original factory.
As I checked in that morning I asked if there were headphones or an iPad available in English, as there wasn't any information about a tour. The front desk attendant smiled and said "wait here a minute," and a few moments later a older gentleman came over to give me a private tour! Part of me thinks he just wanted to practice his (excellent) English. He walked me through the whole museum, chatting about all the innovations and history of Phillips. Let me tell ya - I think that the museum is definitely a must visit and was very interactive and had a lot of cool technology to show off - but having a real person tell me the story of the Phillips family and their incredible impact on the world was truly an experience to remember. Visiting the museum and seeing first hand how far technology has come in a relatively short amount of time really humbled me and made me extra thankful for the ease of what it's brought to my life!
On our final day we visited the DAF Museum. DAF Trucks are a part of PACCAR Inc, the company that my husband works for, and the reason why we visited The Netherlands. DAF too had been founded in Eindhoven and the museum is attached to the original machine shop where the company began. My husband loves all things automotive; it's his job, so visiting this museum took on a whole different flavor than Phillips. This time my own husband toured me around and gave me tidbits of information on different trucks. Watching him analyze ancient engines and essentially geek out over all these trucks as amusing to say the least.
This trip will always be special to me because it was the first time since Penny was born in 2012 that I had been away from either child for more than 36 hours. We were gone for 4 days and I had prepared myself for the great likelihood of Ruby weaning during my absence. Her sister had weaned when we went for our babymoon at Sleeping Lady Resort right around that same age. But -- spoiler alert -- Ruby didn't and even through all of the other 2 to 4 day trips that we took for the remainder of our time in Europe, she still didn't! Woop woop, way to go girl!
And there's plenty more where that came from! We are just scratching the surface of our 5 week trip to Germany. Stay tuned for more posts on our trip.
Information from the posted archaelogical exhibition in the plaza
History of the church filled in with information from the archaeological exhibition, Wikipedia and the official church website