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The City of Utrecht

The city of Utrecht originated from a Roman settlement founded in 48 AD. In the Middle Ages it developed into a Dutch city that ranked first in size and importance up until the 16th century. Today Utrecht still has many unique churches, houses and canals that date from this period of prosperity.

Utrecht now has nearly 300,000 inhabitants and it is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands. With the largest university in the country (29000 students), its atmosphere is largely determined by cycling students and their restaurants and pubs.

The Dom

Holland is world famous for its long tradition of painting. Most people will be familiar with the work of our great masters, whose unimaginable skills have preserved forever on canvas the most magnificent of landscapes. Those who wish to recapture the past but also have an eye for the present, should certainly climb the 'Dom' tower The city of Utrecht, with its inextricable combination of rich past and dynamic present, is a truly unique place to visit. Where else can one find the tallest and finest church tower in Holland: the 'Dom'- a landmark over 600 years old, which greets you at every turn.

Canals and Wharves

Having returned to ground level, it is well worth descending yet another flight of steps, down to the old wharves along the Old Canal (Oudegracht). These form, arguably, Utrecht's greatest tourist attraction. No other city in the world has waterside footpaths like these. They were constructed centuries ago to provide access to the cellars belonging to the canal side houses above. Many of these cellars have now been turned into restaurants, boutiques and craft shops.

Boat trip

A boat trip along the canals offers a unique view of the wharves and the canal side houses above.

Cloisters, courtyards and almshouses

In the bustling University city of Utrecht, however, everything can be explored on foot. After a walk through its crowded but friendly centre, peace and quiet can be found in the many parks, cloisters or courtyards. One other aspect which bares witness to Utrecht's rich past, are the numerous courtyards and almshouses.


Utrecht's museums show aspects of both yesterday and today:

In the Dutch Railway Museum you can not only see a number of superb steam locomotives, but also model trains whose real life equivalents carry 75,000 passengers per day from Central Station.

In the Centraal Museum Utrecht you can admire a large and varied collection of works of art.

The National Museum 'From Musical Clock to Street Organ' ('Van Speelklok tot Pierement')  houses barrel organs, honky tonk player pianos and orchestrinas: a link with the past. Some of these can still be found in use on the many walking streets.

In the Museum Catharijneconvent) the visitor can see an excellent collection and display related to ecclesiastical art and culture in Holland.

The Utrecht University Museum manages the academic heritage of Utrecht University. Besides the conservation and restoration of the 500,000 objects, the museum also organises permanent and temporary exhibitions. The dental collection of the museum is the largest in Europe.

Modern Utrecht also has its interesting contemporary buildings. The Rietveld-Schröderhuis designed by the famous Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld, included on the world list of protected buildings, is an example of this.

Industry and Enterprise

There is also a different side to Utrecht. Consider Utrecht as a shopping centre with such highlights as the Hoog Catharijne Shopping precinct. Utrecht has a lot to offer in the field of theatre, music and culture. Numerous annual festivals are held in Utrecht, many of which enjoy a national and even international reputation. As darkness falls, Utrecht's nightlife slowly gets under way. Utrecht is a city where you can feel completely at home.

More Information

If you would like to know more in-depth information about the city, including places to eat, drink and go out, then please refer to the following two excellent sites:
World Wide Webb by Jon Webb (can take some time to download)
The Museum Kwartier Home Page
Tourist info on The Netherlands can be found at http://www.holland.com
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