A jostle of monastic orders

Party like it is 1468: begging, building and beer

The Carmelites are a Roman-Catholic mendicant religious order whose members do not have any possessions. They beg to support themselves. Before 1468, the building you are now looking at served as a homeless shelter. In 1468, the residents had to make way for the mendicant order of the Carmelites. They laid the foundations of the modern-day Catharijneconvent: the main building with the dining hall, the walled-in convent corridor on the ground floor and a dormitory. Like most monasteries in those days, they had a brewery at their disposal.  The brewery was not intended for having large parties, but as a way of making money. They struggled with their construction works, but that was not because they were drinking too much beer. Construction activities advanced with difficulty because they had an irregular source of income as they depended on charity.

Once upon a time, Carmelites shuffled through the halls of the Catharijneconvent

If you try to think away all the modern alterations, you can still see the tell-tale signs of the monks' daily lives. They would sit down at tables in the posh dining hall, the so-called refectory, and as glasses clinked and forks rattled, a monk with a croaky voice would read a religious text. Nourishing the body and soul always went hand-in-hand in a monastery, much as we now listen to a podcast during lunch.

They were not able to enjoy their comfortable den for long...

Less than sixty years later, in 1529, the Carmelites had to make way for the Johannite Order. For three centuries, the Johannites had the monastery, including a large guesthouse on the modern-day Vredenburg, at their disposal.

The Johannites had to vacate the building fairly quickly too

When Charles V became afraid that the population of Utrecht would revolt against him, the Johannites were made to vacate their building on the Vredenburg. Charles V ordered the construction of a castle to keep the population under control. After just three months, the construction of the castle was so advanced it could already be put to use. The Johannites moved to the Lange Nieuwstraat, the Carmelites' former monastery.

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