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The Peperbus (Pepperpot)

Fadiyah Sameh
Fadiyah Sameh
Posted: 2016-08-08

The Peperbus (Pepperpot) is one of the most well-known church towers in the Netherlands. An enigmatic structure which looms confidently, over the urban landscape of Zwolle. A bold imposing statement on the City's landscape.

The astonishingly delicate dome soars upwards, a strong dominant testament to the echoes of divinity. What is it that drives those ancient architects to construct such lofty structures? A sense of rivalry perhaps, an enduring aspiration to reach the temporal boundaries of heaven, or maybe an overriding fascination of novel engineering techniques? Whatever the case, the Peperbus marks an important juncture in the history of Zwolle.

However, woven within the dark bricks and wooden plinths is a tale, a tragic tale, which recounts episodes of demise and rebirth.


Archive material preserved during the Reformation period reveals the unique history of the tower's construction. Originally it was named the Church of Our Lady.

After the completion of the church in 1457 there was already talk of making a belfry for two clocks. It is said that a second structure lays hidden beneath the depths of the first.

The tower was built by the city architect Berend Covelens, and the bells were donated by nine prominent citizens of the city.

A spiral stairway was installed in 1537 and other alterations were planned. However, insufficient funds led to an abandonment of any further changes. The plans were not fully realised until 1540 when a flat roof was installed. It was not until 1555 that the roof slates were finally put in place.

However, disaster struck in January 1815. Lightning bolts tore through the tower. The onion hood, the lantern and a portion of the upper section of the fuselage were destroyed.

In 1828 City architect Herman Klinkert was commissioned to re-build the tower with a lantern display and a copper dome. This gave the tower the nickname, Peperbus (Pepperpot)

Due to the detection of a number of structural defects the Peperbus was thoroughly restored between 2003 and 2005. On November 2, 2004, four new bells were installed in the carillon, of 51 bells, making it one of the largest carillons in the Netherlands.

To celebrate the inauguration of Pope Francis the Peperbus bells rang out nine chimes on March the 19th 2013.

Features of the Tower

The Peperbus or Our Lady Tower is owned by the Municipality of Zwolle . The 75 meter high tower has a carillon with 51 bells. The spiral stair case consists of 236. The Peperbus, gives access to the church and bell tower of the Basilica of Our Lady.

Once inside the church you have the option to explore the Carillon, the Tower and Clock Room, The Shrine of Thomas Kempis, the Lady Altar, and the impressive high-vaulted Calvary.

If you are seeking a tall vista from which you can enjoy the charming feature of the City, then please do take a trip to the Peperbus. Climbing the 236 steps may seem daunting at first; nevertheless once you reach the uppermost heights of the tower, you will be glad you did.

Additional Information

The City carilloneur, Roy Crucibles, plays the carillon weekly on Fridays from 11:00 to 12:00 and Saturday from 13:30 to 14:30.

Winter opening of November 1 to April 1 Mon / Sat: 13:30 to 15:30 hours

Summer opening times : April 1 / 31st October Mon: 13:30 to 16:30 hours Tue / Sat: 11:00 to 16:30 hours

Last climb half hour before closing.

Admission Charges:

Adults 2.50

Children under 12 accompanied 1.00

Children under 4 years supervised free

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