Utrecht is the Netherlands' fourth largest and most central city. Utrecht is incomparable to any other place. Where else can you walk straight from the train to the shops, where else can you have a beer or a delicious meal right beside the canal, what other city has such a striking and easily recognisable landmark as the Dom Tower, which is more than 600 years old? A city with a friendly shopping heart, friendly street cafés, as well as a bubbling night life; with busy pubs and cafés, simple eateries, but also stylish restaurants and contemporary congress and meeting centres.
Utrecht has a bright past. It all began with a Roman castle established in 47 AD as part of reinforcements along the Rhine. The city's name possibly came from a contraction of the words Uut (downstream) and Trecht (ford). At the end of the 7th century the English missionary Willibrord settled in Utrecht. Utrecht subsequently acquired great ecclesiastical power and developed into a trade centre. The canals and wharves date from this golden period.
Utrecht’s canals and wharves form a true world attraction. No other city on the planet has as many pedestrian quayside paths. They were put there centuries ago to provide access to the cellars under buildings beside the canals. Currently restaurants and boutiques occupy many of these cellars. The wharves themselves are always busy and along the water one can find many good places to eat.
The Dom Tower is deservedly the pride, centre and roof of the city of Utrecht. The tower is more than 600 years old, is the highest in the Netherlands, and has a rich history. It rises 112 metres above the Cathedral, far above the city. Climb the 465 steps with a guide and you will be rewarded with a fantastic view over Utrecht's characteristic canals, wharves and medieval churches. One»s eye is also drawn to the Netherlands' largest covered shopping centre Hoog Catharijne, and the Central Train station where a jumble of tracks meet.
Cultural centre of the Netherlands
With regard to museums, this city has more than its fair share to offer. Utrecht is especially proud of its unique Museum Quarter. In the Museum Quarter there are 7 large museums, each one's collections closely linked with the city's past and present. In the modern music centre Vredenburg a variety of concerts take place.
Utrecht hosts a large number of cultural events every year. An example is the internationally known Holland Festival of Old Music, the Wharf Area Theatre Festival (with acts both on and off the wharves), the Festival of Modern Dance, the Springdance movement and Dutch Film Festival. Utrecht is becoming increasingly famous for these excellent festivals, including its ‘Cultural Sundays’. Once a month a Cultural Sunday takes place that invites all citizens of Utrecht to enjoy a unique cultural theme Sunday down town, for free!
Utrecht is full of beautiful architecture, old as well as modern. The world-famous architect Rietveld was born in Utrecht. The university centre ‘De Uithof’ has some of the best modern architecture in The Netherlands.