Part of the wooden tower was burned down and the organ, bells and the stained-glass windows were lost.
Fanned by a strong east wind, the fire ravaged virtually everything west of the Nieuwe Kerk (houses of the time were mainly built with timber).
Few of these building, which gave Delft its medieval character, withstood the fire.
What has changed in the course of 300 years and exactly what has remained of the past?
With an mprovised tour guide composed of paintings, engravings and descriptions of Delft, we stand a fair chance of finding at least a few answers. "In the second half of the 17th century (about the time Vermeer's career was beginning), Amsterdam and Rotterdam, because of their excellent ports, took over more and more of the nation's trade, Delft slowed down.
Its famous pottery industry continued to flourish, but other businesses languished.
Thus Delft still has a few acres of houses, churches, canals and squares which lead us straight into Vermeer's world." Unfortunately, the situation is not so bright when it comes to Vermeer.
All the original buildings which played significant roles in the life and work of the Master have been demolished even though most of their original locations can be pinpointed with security.
The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Oude Kerk (Old Church) and City Hall do still stand in all their glory, but the private dwellings of Vermeer and his exteneded family, and the Guild of St Luke where the artist fraternized with his colleagues, have long since been torn down.Two dates crucial for the development of the city of Delft must be considered: the first is the Great Fire on May 3, 1536, caused by a bolt of lighting that struck the tower of Nieuwe Kerk.The number of breweries in the city shrank from more than 100 to 15.It became the home of retired people and a stronghold of conservative Calvinism.Gradually the once-vigorous city went into a decline that left it virtually dormant until the 19th Century.The one lucky result of this misfortune is that the heart of Delft today looks very much as it did in Vermeer's day, since, by the time the town came to light again, men had learned to value and preserve the architectural heritage of the past.