The Guardian has a lovely, evocative piece on a new bookstore in Holland. The shop — Selexyz Dominicanen — complete with a cafe serving up cappuccino and red wine, resides in a Dominican church that was consecrated in 1294. The ceilings still bear the ancient paintings, and books are stacked well beyond the first floor.
In some ways it’s neat, and it’s certainly better than what could happen here (I pray that even in America we wouldn’t tear down such a monumental architectural work!); however, it some ways the thought of a cathedral being repurposed makes me feel a tiny bit uneasy. Still, it’s a beautiful space, and could be inducement for me to add Maastricht to my list of places in Europe to visit. And this has to be a more appropriate use for the space than its previous use, as a bike pound.
Views from the top shelf along the nave of the church are nothing short of uplifting, while just above your head are the faded remains of ceiling paintings from around 1337; in a very different style, there are others by the artist Jan Vessens, depicting saints and sinners and episodes from the Bible, dating from 1619. It is rare to get so close to such paintings anywhere, let alone in a bookshop.