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Friday, 9 January 2015

Bookstore Inside the Church of Maastricht, Netherlands

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church. This haunting building was once part of a friary knocked about over the centuries by various invading armies. Right up until last Christmas, in possibly its strangest incarnation, it was being used by the citizens of Maastricht as a glorious, or possibly inglorious, indoor bike pound. As for the Dominicans, they were driven out by Napoleon in 1794. After a brief spell as a parish church, this magnificent Gothic prayer hall - it has no tower or transepts, in keeping with the rules of the clerical order that built it - was turned into nothing holier than a warehouse.

Most beautiful bookshop in the world, The Dominicans' church, Maastricht-The Netherlands.
Most beautiful bookshop in the world,The Dominicans' church, Maastricht-The Netherlands.
Today, the church, consecrated in 1294, could hardly be more popular. The beautifully restored building is an attraction in its own right, and yet the installation of a towering, three-storey black steel bookstack in the long, high nave, together with a fashionable if somewhat noisy cafe in the choir, works extraordinarily well. Church and bookshop look as if they might have been made for one another. [First Image credit Roberto Braam]


As more European churches become redundant, we need to dream up new uses for them. Happily, books and churches have always gone together: in the beginning, as St John tells us, was the Word; the word was, in time, written down in books. At first, these were mighty tomes read by priests alone. Such was their value that, at the time this church was built, they were chained to vaulted library walls.

The bookshop installation here is by the Dutch architects Merkx + Girod, founded in 1998 and led from Amsterdam by Evelyne Merkx and Patrice Girod. The dominant new element in the church is the high-rise bookshelf structure stretching up to the stone vaults. Popular books are kept on lower shelves, while academic, esoteric and theological works are kept closer to heaven. These are reached by stairs within the sleek, well-made bookstack, although there is also a lift. [Source]

Selexyz Dominicanen, The most beautiful bookstores in the world
Selexyz Dominicanen, The most beautiful bookstores in the world. Image credit Remon Rijper

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit Pieter Bas Elskamp

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit J0N6

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit Mahdi Abdulrazak

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit Mahdi Abdulrazak

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit verdandi_magic

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit verdandi_magic

Selexyz bookstore in the Dominican church in Maastricht
Selexyz bookstore in the Dominican church in Maastricht. Image credit Bert Kaufmann

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit Remon Rijper

Selexyz Dominicanen - a store created from a merger between the town's Bergman's bookshop, the Academische Boekhandel, and the Dutch Selexyz bookshop chain - is housed in the thrilling setting of a 13th-century Dominican church.
Image credit verdandi_magic

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