Jan van Nassau / John of Nassau
Statue in the middle of the Dom Square — In the middle of the Dom Square stands this classical statue. The person depicted is John of Nassau, who played a major role in the history of the Netherlands. ‘William of Nassau, scion of a Dutch and ancient line.’ Most Dutch people know the first line of the national anthem, but how well do they know their country’s history?
William of Orange, Father of the Nation, will be familiar to most Dutch people. However, his younger brother, John of Nassau, also played an important role in the unification of this country. He was involved in the formation of the Union of Utrecht in 1579 – forerunner to the modern-day Netherlands.
His statue on the Dom Square was revealed to the citizens of Utrecht on October 15, 1883, at a feast attended by King William III. Utrecht residents could also attend the party for a fee of 2.50 guilders (the current equivalent would be €28.52), as long as they attended in ‘official costume’. Children were allowed to join the festivities free of charge.
Besides telling us about the historical origins of the Netherlands, this statue also tells us about growing nationalism throughout the 19th century. These kinds of classical monuments were highly popular at the time.