In the Middle Ages, most of the area of the current province was ruled by bishops of the Bishopric of Utrecht. The bishopric was founded in 722 by Willibrord. Many wars were fought between Utrecht and the neighbouring counties and duchies, Holland, Guelders and Brabant. In 1527, the bishop of Utrecht sold his worldly power over his territories to Emperor Charles V, who already owned most other Dutch provinces. However, the Habsburg rule did not last long, as Utrecht joined the revolt of the United Provinces against Charles's son Philip II of Spain in 1579. In World War II, Utrecht was held by German forces until the general capitulation of the Germans in the Netherlands on May 5, 1945. It was occupied by Canadian Allied forces on May 7, 1945. The towns of Oudewater, Woerden and Vianen were transferred from the province of South Holland to Utrecht in 1970, 1989 and 2002 respectively.
In February 2011, Utrecht, together with the provinces of North Holland and Flevoland, showed a desire to investigate the feasibility of a merger between the three provinces. This has been positively received by the Dutch cabinet, for the desire to create one Randstad province has already been mentioned in the coalition agreement. The province of South Holland, part of the Randstad urban area, visioned to be part of the Randstad province, and very much supportive of the idea of a merger into one province, is not named. With or without South Holland, if created, the new province would be the largest in the Netherlands in both area and population.
In the east of Utrecht lies the Utrecht Hill Ridge (Dutch: Utrechtse Heuvelrug), a chain of hills left as lateral moraine by tongues of glacial ice after the Saline glaciation that preceded the last ice age. Because of the scarcity of nutrients in the fast-draining sandy soil, the greatest part of a landscape that was formerly heath has been planted with pineplantations. The south of the province is a river landscape. The west consists mostly of meadows. In the north are big lakes formed by the digging of peat from bogs formed after the last ice age.
A site in Utrecht nature reserve "Blauwe kamer" near Rhenen
As for nature one of the most attractive area's in this province is the so-called Vechtstreek, a region situated on both sides of the Vecht river.
An international nature conservation organisation that has settled the headoffice of its Netherlands branche in this province (at Zeist) is the WWF. Headquarters of international ethical banking company Triodos Bank also is located in Zeist.
"Natuur en Milieu"  is a national nature protection organisation of which the headoffice is in this province (at Utrecht city). Also in Utrecht city the headoffice of the national association of vegans (NVV) is located.