St John’s Church
Rich history on the Janskerkhof, a world of books behind a little door — The University library used to be behind this door.
The Janskerk (St John’s Church) was probably built around about 1050. We do not know for sure as there are no existing records. Until 1580, the church was owned by the St John’s chapter. Walls used to mark the boundaries of the religious grounds, the so-called ‘immunity’. In 1580, during the iconoclastic fury, the organ was destroyed, the building stopped serving as a collegiate church and Catholicism was outlawed.
In 1584, the church was given a new function as the city library. In the early 17th century, the library received a gift from the Utrecht lawyer Evert van de Poll. With this donation, the number of books in the collection jumped from 600 to approximately 1,500 books. When the Utrecht University was founded in 1636, the city library and the university library merged and the new integrated library later moved to the Wittenvrouwenstraat.
In 1656, the Janskerk served as a church again. Above the entrance to the former city library there is still a copper plaque with a short history of the church.
Since 1998, the Janskerk can be hired for congresses, concerts and university graduation ceremonies. This is still an option today. But a weekly ecumenical service is also still held in the church.