The Sint Jansbasiliek is a large church situated in the town of Laren in the province of Nord-Holland (Netherlands). Laren is one of the the most affluent towns in The Netherlands, with many people who are highly connected to the banking industry (and other large corporations) calling this place their place of residence. As a town, it is quite nice but quite unremarkable for a tourist... if you are in The Netherlands, you are better off visiting Gouda, Leiden or Delft if you are after a bit of a smaller town Dutch experience.


However, I do find myself in this particular town with it's impressive gigantic church (not a cathedral...) on a yearly basis for the Easter celebrations which often includes a concert of the either the Johannes or Mattheus Passion by JS Bach for the town and congregation. The large church is often completely packed, and I do wonder if all the audience are actually part of the regular congregation... or if they are doing the "right" thing by being seen at the culmination of the Easter time. I wouldn't be surprised if it is more of the latter than the former.. that said, I think that was always the case throughout history!


The actual concert in the Easter is quite a strange affair... it is quite ceremonial, with the orchestra and performers being led to the alter/stage by a procession of orderlies dressed up in ceremonial garb. It is a bit of a tradition that harks back a long way in the town's history... and something that I'm not really that comfortable with, as it is in many places evolved and morphed into quite distasteful forms. That said, I guess that the wealthy need to have their special little ceremonies....


Although Sint Jansbasiliek looks to be quite old, in fact it is quite new in the timeline that is usually associated with churches. Built in 1924, with a style that imitates older Cathedral styles it quite obviously uses more modern building materials and techniques. For example, the whole building is made from bricks rather than the large quarry blocks that you would see in the Cathedrals that hail from the Gothic era.


Although the church is a Protestant church, it does have a bit more in the way of obvious displays of wealth than is common in the other Lutheran style churches. This is probably a product of the wealth of the surrounding area. Remember that the Reformation was a statement and reaction against the ostentatious displays of earthly wealth by the Catholic church, and that ideal was reflected in building places of worship to be as stark and devotional as possible.


Still, I do find that some of the Lutheran churches to be slightly better than glorified warehouses... so, in some ways this church does strike a bit of a middle balance between the hardcore Lutheran churches and the crazily ornate Catholic ones! Even if some of the wall decorations are a touch on the weird side!

Anyway, although this church is quite interesting as a bit of a reflection upon the values of the surrounding areas.... it really isn't an iconic church that you would need to go out of your way for... and trust me, it is not easy to get here by public transport, so it really wouldn't be on the radar of most travellers. Again, if you are interested in churches to visit in The Netherlands, I would rather recommend the church of Delft, which has a great tower that you can climb to get a great view of Den Haag and Delft; or the Cathedral in Gouda with the amazing listed stained glass windows; or one of the "hidden" Catholic churches of Den Haag or Amsterdam.