Utrecht

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Utrecht
City and Municipality
Aerial view of Utrecht from the Dom Tower
Aerial view of Utrecht from the Dom Tower
Flag of Utrecht
Flag
Coat of arms of Utrecht
Coat of arms
Highlighted position of Utrecht in a municipal map of Utrecht
Location in Utrecht
Coordinates: 52°5′N 5°7′E / 52.083°N 5.117°E / 52.083; 5.117Coordinates: 52°5′N 5°7′E / 52.083°N 5.117°E / 52.083; 5.117
Country Netherlands
Province Utrecht
Government[1]
 • Body Municipal council
 • Mayor Jan van Zanen (VVD)
Area[2]
 • Municipality 99.21 km2 (38.31 sq mi)
 • Land 94.33 km2 (36.42 sq mi)
 • Water 4.88 km2 (1.88 sq mi)
 • Randstad 3,043 km2 (1,175 sq mi)
Elevation[3] 5 m (16 ft)
Population (Municipality, January 2014; Urban and Metro, January 2014; Randstad, 2011)[2][4][5]
 • Municipality 328,577
 • Density 3,483/km2 (9,020/sq mi)
 • Urban 487,685
 • Metro 654,081
 • Randstad 6,979,500
Demonym Utrechtenaar, Utrechter
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postcode 3450–3455, 3500–3585
Area code 030
Website www.utrecht.nl

Utrecht (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈytrɛxt] ( )) is the capital and most populous city in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 328,577 in 2014.

Utrecht's ancient city centre features many buildings and structures from the Early Middle Ages. It has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century. Currently it is the see of the Archbishop of Utrecht, the most important Dutch Roman Catholic leader.[6][7] Utrecht is also the see of the archbishop of the Old Catholic church, titular head of the Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic), and the location of the offices of the main Protestant church. Until the Dutch Golden Age, Utrecht was the most important city of the Netherlands; then, Amsterdam became its cultural centre and most populous city.

Utrecht is host to Utrecht University, the largest university of the Netherlands, as well as several other institutes for higher education. Due to its central position within the country, it is an important transport hub for both rail and road transport. It has the second highest number of cultural events in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam.[8]

History[edit]

Origins (until 650)[edit]

Many of the features in Blaeu's 1652 map of Utrecht can still be recognised in the city center

Although there is some evidence of earlier inhabitation in the region of Utrecht, dating back to the Stone Age (app. 2200 BCE) and settling in the Bronze Age (app. 1800–800 BCE),[9] the founding date of the city is usually related to the construction of a Roman fortification (castellum), probably built in around 50 CE. These fortresses were designed to house a cohort of about 500 Roman soldiers. Near the fort a settlement would grow housing artisans, traders and soldiers' wives and children. A line of such fortresses was built after the Roman emperor Claudius decided the empire should not expand further north. To consolidate the border the limes Germanicus defense line was constructed.[10] This line was located at the borders of the main branch of the river Rhine, which at that time flowed through a more northern bed compared to today, along what is now the Kromme Rijn.

In Roman times, the name of the Utrecht fortress was simply Traiectum, denoting its location at a possible Rhine crossing. Traiectum became Dutch Trecht. The U comes from Old Dutch "uut" meaning downriver. It was added to distinguish from the other Tricht, Maas-tricht.[11][12] In 11th-century official documents it was then Latinized as Ultra Traiectum. Around the year 200, the wooden walls of the fortification were replaced by sturdier tuff stone walls,[13] remnants of which are still to be found below the buildings around Dom Square.

From the middle of the 3rd century Germanic tribes regularly invaded the Roman territories. Around 275 the Romans could no longer maintain the northern border and Utrecht was abandoned.[10] Little is known about the next period 270–650. Utrecht is first spoken of again centuries after the Romans left. Under the influence of the growing realms of the Franks a church was built in the 7th century within the walls of the Roman fortress during Dagobert I's reign.[10] In ongoing border conflicts with the Frisians the church was however destroyed.

Centre of Christianity in the Netherlands (650–1579)[edit]

The Dom tower, with to the left behind it the remaining section of the Dom church. The two parts have not been connected since the collapse of the nave in 1674.

By the mid-7th century, English and Irish missionaries set out to convert the Frisians. The pope appointed their leader, Willibrordus, bishop of the Frisians; which is usually considered to be the beginning of the Bishopric of Utrecht.[10] In 723, the Frankish leader Charles Martel bestowed the fortress in Utrecht and the surrounding lands as the base of bishops. From then on Utrecht became one of the most influential seats of power for the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. The see of the archbishops of Utrecht was located at the uneasy northern border of the Carolingian Empire. Furthermore it had to compete with the nearby trading centre Dorestad, also founded near the location of a Roman fortress.[10] After the downfall of Dorestad around 850, Utrecht became one of the most important cities in the Netherlands.[14] The importance of Utrecht as a centre of Christianity is illustrated by the election of the Utrecht-born Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens as pope in 1522 (the last non-Italian pope before John Paul II)Pope Adrian died one year later after his election and although he ordered to build the Paus Huize in Utrecht he never actually saw it.[citation needed]

Prince-Bishops[edit]

Main article: Bishopric of Utrecht

When the Frankish rulers established the system of feudalism, the Bishops of Utrecht came to exercise worldly power as prince-bishops.[10] The territory of the bishopric not only included the modern province of Utrecht (Nedersticht, 'lower Sticht'), but also extended to the northeast. The feudal system led to conflict, and the prince-bishopric was at odds with the Counts of Holland and the Dukes of Guelders.[15] The Veluwe region was soon seized by Guelders, but large areas in the modern province of Overijssel remained as the Oversticht.

Clerical buildings[edit]

Several churches and monasteries were built inside, or close to, the city of Utrecht. The most dominant of these was the Cathedral of Saint Martin, inside the old Roman fortress. The construction of the present Gothic building was begun in 1254 after an earlier romanesque construction had been badly damaged by fire. The choir and transept were finished from 1320 and were followed then by the ambitious Dom tower.[10] The last part to be constructed was the central nave, from 1420. By that time, however, the age of the great cathedrals had come to an end and declining finances prevented the ambitious project from being finished, the construction of the central nave being suspended before the planned flying buttresses could be finished.[10] Besides the cathedral there were four collegiate churches in Utrecht: St. Salvator's Church (demolished in the 16th century), on the Dom square, dating back to the early 8th century.[16] Saint John (Janskerk), originating in 1040;[17] Saint Peter, building started in 1039[18] and Saint Mary's church building started around 1090 (demolished in the early 19th century, cloister survives).[19] Besides these churches the city housed Saint Paul's Abbey.[20] The 15th-century beguine monastery of Saint Nicholas, and a 14th-century chapter house of the Teutonic Knights.[21]

Besides these buildings which were part of the official structures of the bishopric; an additional four parish churches were constructed in the city: the Jacobikerk (dedicated to Saint James), founded in the 11th century, with the current Gothic church dating back to the 14th century;[22] the Buurkerk (Neighbourhood-church) of the 11th-century parish in the centre of the city; Nicolaichurch (dedicated to Saint Nicholas), from the 12th century[23] and the 13th-century Geertekerk (dedicated to Saint Gertrude of Nivelles).[24]

City of Utrecht[edit]

The location on the banks of the river Rhine allowed Utrecht to become an important trade centre in the Northern Netherlands. The growing town Utrecht was granted city rights by Henry V. in 1122. When the main flow of the Rhine moved south, the old bed, which still flowed through the heart of the town became evermore canalized; and a very rare wharf system was built as an inner city harbour system.[25] On the wharfs storage facilities (werfkelders) were built, on top of which the main street, including houses was constructed. The wharfs and the cellars are accessible from a platform at water level with stairs descending from the street level to form a unique structure.[nb 1][26] The relations between the bishop, who controlled many lands outside of the city, and the citizens of Utrecht was not always easy.[10] The bishop, for example dammed the Kromme Rijn at Wijk bij Duurstede to protect his estates from flooding. This threatened shipping for the city and led the city of Utrecht to commission a canal to ensure access to the town for shipping trade: the Vaartse Rijn, connecting Utrecht to the Hollandse IJssel at IJsselstein.

The end of independence[edit]

In 1528, the secular powers of the bishop over both Neder- and Oversticht – which included the city of Utrecht – were transferred to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who became the Lord of the Seventeen Provinces (the current Benelux and the northern parts of France). This transition was not an easy one and Charles V tried to exert his power over the citizens of the city, who had achieved a certain level of independence from the bishops and were not willing to cede this to their new lord. Charles decided to build a heavily fortified castle Vredenburg to house a large garrison whose chief task would be to maintain order in the city. The castle would last less than 50 years before it was demolished in an uprising in the early stages of the Dutch Revolt.

Republic of the Netherlands (1579–1815)[edit]

Prince Maurits in Utrecht, 31 July 1618

In 1579 the northern seven provinces signed the Union of Utrecht, in which they decided to join forces against Spanish rule. The Union of Utrecht is seen as the beginning of the Dutch Republic. In 1580 the new and predominantly Protestant state abolished the bishoprics, including the one in Utrecht, which had become an archbishopric in 1559. The stadtholders disapproved of the independent course of the Utrecht bourgeoisie and brought the city under much more direct control of the republic, dominated by the province of Holland. This was the start of a long period of stagnation of trade and development in Utrecht, an atypical city in the new state, still about 40% Catholic in the mid-17th century, and even more so among the elite groups, who included many rural nobility and gentry with town houses there.[27]

The city, which was held against its will in the states of the Republic, failed to defend itself against the French invasion in 1672 (the Disaster Year).

The lack of structural integrity proved to be the undoing of the central section of the cathedral of St Martin church when Utrecht was struck by a tornado in 1674.

The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 settled the War of the Spanish Succession.

Since 1723 (but especially after 1870) Utrecht became the centre of the non-Roman Old Catholic Churches in the world.

Modern history (1815–present)[edit]

In the early 19th century, the role of Utrecht as a fortified town had become obsolete. The fortifications of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie were moved east of Utrecht. The town walls could now be demolished to allow for expansion. The moats remained intact and formed an important feature of the Zocher plantsoen, an English style landscape park that remains largely intact today.

1960s style architecture at the Jaarbeursplein

Growth of the city increased when, in 1843, a railway connecting Utrecht to Amsterdam was opened. After that, Utrecht gradually became the main hub of the Dutch railway network.

In 1853, the Dutch government allowed the bishopric of Utrecht to be reinstated by Rome, and Utrecht became the centre of Dutch Catholicism once more.

With the industrial revolution finally gathering speed in the Netherlands and the ramparts taken down, Utrecht began to grow far beyond the medieval center from the 1880s onward with the construction of neighbourhoods such as Oudwijk, Wittevrouwen, Vogelenbuurt to the East, and Lombok to the West. New middle class residential areas, such as Tuindorp and Oog in Al, were built in the 1920s and 1930s. During this period, several Jugendstil houses and office buildings were built, followed by Rietveld who built the Rietveld Schröder House (1924), and Dudok's construction of the city theater (1941).

During World War II, Utrecht was held by the Germans until the general German surrender of the Netherlands on 5 May 1945. Canadian troops that surrounded the city entered it after that surrender, on 7 May 1945.

Since World War II, the city has grown considerably when new neighbourhoods such as Overvecht (nl), Kanaleneiland, Hoograven (nl) and Lunetten were built. Additionally the area surrounding Utrecht Centraal railway station and the station itself have been developed following modernist ideas of the 1960s, in a brutalist style. This led to the construction of the shopping mall Hoog Catharijne (nl), music centre Vredenburg (Hertzberger, 1979), and conversion of part of the ancient canal structure into a highway (Catherijnebaan). Protest against further modernisation of the city centre followed even before the last buildings were finalised. In the early 21st century the whole area is being redeveloped. An architectural unique music palace has been constructed, that will be run jointly by Vredenburg, Tivoli and the SJU Jazzpodium.

Currently the city is expanding once more with the development of the Leidsche Rijn housing area.

Geography[edit]

Topography[edit]

Utrecht-plaats-OpenTopo.jpg

Climate[edit]

Utrecht experiences a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the Netherlands.

Climate data for De Bilt
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.1
(59.2)
16.9
(62.4)
21.8
(71.2)
26.9
(80.4)
32.0
(89.6)
33.9
(93)
34.9
(94.8)
35.3
(95.5)
30.1
(86.2)
26.5
(79.7)
17.7
(63.9)
15.3
(59.5)
35.3
(95.5)
Average high °C (°F) 5.6
(42.1)
6.4
(43.5)
10.0
(50)
14.0
(57.2)
18.0
(64.4)
20.4
(68.7)
22.8
(73)
22.6
(72.7)
19.1
(66.4)
14.6
(58.3)
9.6
(49.3)
6.1
(43)
14.1
(57.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.1
(37.6)
3.3
(37.9)
6.2
(43.2)
9.2
(48.6)
13.1
(55.6)
15.6
(60.1)
17.9
(64.2)
17.5
(63.5)
14.5
(58.1)
10.7
(51.3)
6.7
(44.1)
3.7
(38.7)
10.1
(50.2)
Average low °C (°F) 0.3
(32.5)
0.2
(32.4)
2.3
(36.1)
4.1
(39.4)
7.8
(46)
10.5
(50.9)
12.8
(55)
12.3
(54.1)
9.9
(49.8)
6.9
(44.4)
3.6
(38.5)
1.0
(33.8)
6.0
(42.8)
Record low °C (°F) −18.3
(−0.9)
−14.6
(5.7)
−13.9
(7)
−6.6
(20.1)
−2.5
(27.5)
0.2
(32.4)
4.0
(39.2)
4.4
(39.9)
−0.7
(30.7)
−5.1
(22.8)
−8.9
(16)
−13.4
(7.9)
−18.3
(−0.9)
Precipitation mm (inches) 69.6
(2.74)
55.8
(2.197)
66.8
(2.63)
42.3
(1.665)
61.9
(2.437)
65.6
(2.583)
81.1
(3.193)
72.9
(2.87)
78.1
(3.075)
82.8
(3.26)
79.8
(3.142)
75.8
(2.984)
832.5
(32.776)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 12 10 11 9 10 10 10 10 11 12 13 12 130
Avg. snowy days 6 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 25
 % humidity 87 84 81 75 75 76 77 79 84 86 89 89 81.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 62.3 85.7 121.6 173.6 207.2 193.9 206.0 187.7 138.3 112.9 63.0 49.3 1,601.6
Source #1: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1981–2010 normals, snowy days normals for 1971–2000)[28]
Source #2: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1971–2000 extremes)[29]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 102,086
1910 119,006 16.6%
1920 138,334 16.2%
1930 153,208 10.8%
1940 165,029 7.7%
1950 193,190 17.1%
1960 254,186 31.6%
1970 279,000 9.8%
1980 236,208 −15.3%
1990 230,676 −2.3%
2000 233,667 1.3%
2010 307,081 31.4%

Inhabitants of Utrecht are called ‘Utrechter’ or more rarely, usually by mistake, ‘Utrechtenaar’ as the latter is also a known Utrecht euphemism for homosexual.[nb 2]

Utrecht city had a population of 296,305 in 2007. Utrecht is a growing municipality and projections are that the city's population will surpass 392,000 by 2025.[30]

In Utrecht 52% of the population is female, 48% is male. Utrecht has a young population, with many inhabitants in the age category from 20 and 30 years, due to the presence of a large university.

The majority of households (52.5%) in Utrecht are single person households. About 29% of people living in Utrecht are either married, or have another legal partnership. About 3% of the population of Utrecht is divorced.[30]

About 69% of the population is of Dutch ancestry. Approximately 10% of the population consists of immigrants from Western countries, while 21% of the population is of non-Western origin (9% Moroccan, 5% Turkish, 3% Surinamese and Dutch Caribbean and 5% of other countries).[30] With 9% of its population being of Moroccan heritage, Utrecht contains the largest proportion of people of Moroccan descent of any Dutch municipality.[citation needed] Many of the city's boroughs have a relatively high percentage of originally non-Dutch inhabitants – i.e. Kanaleneiland 83% and Overvecht 57%.

Like Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and other large Dutch cities, Utrecht faces socio-economic problems. About 38% percent of its population either earns a minimum income or is dependent on social welfare (17% of all households). Boroughs such as Kanaleneiland, Overvecht and Hoograven consist primarily of high-rise housing developments, and are known for relatively high poverty and crime rate.

Population in Utrecht[30]
Female Age Male
22761 15% 0–14 23994 17%
44732 30% 15–29 36165 26%
36444 24% 30–44 39434 28%
15574 10% 45–54 15996 11%
11899 8% 55–64 11484 8%
8317 6% 65–74 7457 5%
9374 6% 74+ 4764 3%

Population centres and agglomeration[edit]

The city of Utrecht consists of 10 official city parts which all have their own neighbourhood council and service center for civil affairs.

  • The city of Utrecht (population: app. 327.834) and its city parts:
  • (1) Binnenstad – (2) Oost – (3) Leidsche Rijn – (4) West – (5) Overvecht – (6) Zuid – (7) Noordoost – (8) Zuidwest – (9) Noordwest – (10) Vleuten-De Meern

Utrecht is the centre of a densely populated area, which makes concise definitions of its agglomeration difficult, and somewhat arbitrary. The smaller Utrecht agglomeration counts some 420,000 inhabitants and includes Nieuwegein, IJsselstein and Maarssen. It is sometimes argued that the municipalities De Bilt, Zeist, Houten, Vianen, Driebergen-Rijsenburg (Utrechtse Heuvelrug), and Bunnik should also be counted towards the Utrecht agglomeration, bringing the total to 640,000 inhabitants. The larger region, including slightly more remote towns such as Woerden and Amersfoort counts up to 820,000 inhabitants.[31]

Cityscape[edit]

Oudegracht, the 'old canal' in central Utrecht
The Oudegracht c. 1890.
View on the Oudegracht from the Dom tower

Utrecht's cityscape features the Dom Tower, belonging to the former cathedral (Dom Church).[32] An ongoing debate is if any building in or near the centre of town may surpass the Dom Tower in height (112 m). Nevertheless, some tall buildings are now being constructed that will become part of the skyline of Utrecht. The second highest building of the city, the Rabobank-tower, completed in 2010 and standing 105 m (344.49 ft) tall.[33] Two antennas will increase that height to 120 m (393.70 ft). Two other buildings were constructed around the Nieuw Galgenwaard stadium (2007). These buildings, the 'Kantoortoren Galghenwert' and 'Apollo Residence', stand 85.5 and 64.5 metres high respectively.

Another landmark is the old centre and the canal structure in the inner city. The Oudegracht is a curved canal, partly following an old arm of the Rhine. It is lined with the unique wharf-basement structures that create a two-level street along the canals.[34] The inner city has largely retained its Medieval structure,[35] and the moat ringing the old town is largely intact.[36] Because of the role of Utrecht as a fortified city, which restricted construction outside the walls, until the 19th century the city has remained very compact. Surrounding the medieval core there is a ring of late 19th- and early 20th-century neighbourhoods, with newer neighbourhoods positioned farther out.[37] The eastern part of Utrecht remains fairly open. The Dutch Water Line, moved east of the city in the early 19th century required open lines of fire thus prohibiting all permanent constructions until the middle of the 20th century on the east side of the city.[38]

Due to the past importance of Utrecht as a religious centre, several monumental churches have survived.[39] Most prominent is the Dom Church. Other notable churches include the romanesque St Peter's and St John's churches, the gothic churches of St James and St Nicholas, and the so-called Buurkerk, now converted into a museum for automatically playing musical instruments .

Transport[edit]

Utrecht UFO on the top of the ProRail HQ

Public transport[edit]

Because of its central location, Utrecht is well connected to the rest of the Netherlands and has a well-developed public transport network.

Heavy and light rail[edit]

Utrecht Central Station

Utrecht Centraal is the main railway station of Utrecht. There are also some smaller stations in the suburbs: Utrecht Lunetten, Utrecht Overvecht, Utrecht Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht Terwijde, Utrecht Zuilen and Vleuten. Utrecht Maliebaan closed in 1939 and has since been converted into the Dutch Railway Museum.

From Utrecht Centraal, there are regular services to all major Dutch cities; direct services to Schiphol Airport began in March 2006 with the opening of the Utrechtboog. International InterCityExpress (ICE) services to Germany as well as regular local trains to all areas surrounding Utrecht also depart from Utrecht Centraal.

The Utrecht sneltram is a light rail scheme running southwards Utrecht Centraal to the suburbs of IJsselstein, Kanaleneiland, Lombok-Leidseweg and Nieuwegein. The sneltram began operating in 1983 and is currently operated by the private transport company Connexxion; from December 2011, it will be operated by Qbuzz. In 2018 the new extension to the Uithof will start operating creating a direct mass transit connection from the central station to the university campus.[40]

Utrecht is also the location of the headquarters of both Nederlandse Spoorwegen (English: Dutch Railways) – the largest rail operator in the Netherlands – and ProRail – the state-owned company responsible for the construction and maintenance of the country's rail infrastructure.

Bus transport[edit]

The main local and regional bus station of Utrecht is located adjacent to Utrecht Centraal railway station, at the East and West entrances. Due to large scale renovation and construction works at the railway station, the station's bus stops are changing frequently. As a general rule, westbound buses depart from the bus station on the west entrance, other buses from the east side station. Local buses in Utrecht are operated by Qbuzz – its services include a high-frequency service to the Uithof university district. The local bus fleet is one of Europe's cleanest, using only buses compliant with the Euro-VI standard as well as electric buses for inner city transport. Regional buses from the city are operated by Arriva, Connexxion, Qliner and Veolia. Utrecht Centraal's bus station is the busiest in the Netherlands.[citation needed]

The Utrecht Centraal railway station is also served by the pan-European services of Eurolines. Furthermore, it acts as departure and arrival place of many coach companies serving holiday resorts in Spain and France – and during winter in Austria and Switzerland.[41]

Cycling[edit]

Like most Dutch cities, Utrecht has an extensive network of cycle paths, making cycling safe and popular. 33% of journeys within the city are by bicycle, more than any other mode of transport.[42] (Cars, for example, account for 19% of trips). Bicycles are used by young and old people, and by individuals and families. They are mostly traditional, upright, steel-framed bicycles, with few or no gears. There are also barrow bikes, for carrying shopping or small children. As thousands of bicycles are parked haphazardly in town, creating an eyesore but also impeding pedestrians, the City Council decided in 2014 to build the world's largest bicycle parking station, near the Central Railway Station. This 3-floor construction will cost an estimated 48 million Euro's and will hold 12,500 bicycles. Completion is foreseen in 2018.[43]

Road transport[edit]

Utrecht is well-connected to the Dutch road network. Two of the most important major roads serve the city of Utrecht: the A12 and A2 motorways connect Amsterdam, Arnhem, The Hague and Maastricht, as well as Belgium and Germany. Other major motorways in the area are the AlmereBreda A27 and the Utrecht–Groningen A28.[44] Due to the increasing traffic, traffic congestion is a common phenomenon in and around Utrecht, causing elevated levels of air pollutants. This has led to a passionate debate in the city about the best way to improve the city's air quality.

Shipping[edit]

Utrecht has an industrial port located on the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal.[45] The container terminal has a capacity of 80,000 containers a year. In 2003, the port facilitated the transport of four million tons of cargo; mostly sand, gravel, fertilizer and fodder.[46]

Additionally, some tourist boat trips are organised from various places on the Oudegracht.[47][48][49]

Economy[edit]

'De Inktpot (nl)' (The Inkpot)

The economy of Utrecht depends for a large part on the several large institutions located in the city. Production industry has a relatively small influence in Utrecht. Rabobank, a large bank, has its headquarters in Utrecht. It is the centre of the Dutch railroad network and the location of the head office of Nederlandse Spoorwegen. The former offices of Nederlandse Spoorwegen – De Inktpot (nl) (The Inkpot) – is the largest brick building in the Netherlands (the "UFO" featured on its façade stems from an art program in 2000). The building is currently used by ProRail.

A large indoor shopping centre called Hoog Catharijne (nl) is located between Utrecht Centraal railway station and the city centre. The corridors have been considered public places like streets, and the route between the station and the city centre is open all night. Over the next 20 years (counting from 2004), parts of Hoog Catharijne will disappear as a consequence of the renovation of the station area.[50] Parts of the city's network of canals, which were filled to create the shopping center and central station area, will be recreated.

The Jaarbeurs, one of the largest convention centres in the Netherlands, is located at the west side of the central railway station.

One of Europe's biggest used car markets is located in the Voordorp district. It is open every Tuesday except on official holidays. With thousands of second-hand vehicles on sale the market is a special point of interest for customers from Eastern European countries who even organize special one-way bus tours for shopping there.

Education[edit]

View on the Uithof campus of Utrecht University

Utrecht is well known for its institutions of higher education. The most prominent of these is Utrecht University (est. 1636), the largest university of the Netherlands with 29,927 students (as of 2009). The university is partially based in the inner city as well as in the Uithof campus area, on the east of the city. According to Shanghai Jiaotong University's university ranking in 2010 it is the 50th best university in the world.[51] Utrecht also houses the much smaller University of Humanistic Studies, which houses about 400 students.[52]

Utrecht is home of one of the locations of TiasNimbas, focused on post-experience management education and the largest management school of its kind in the Netherlands. In 2008, its executive MBA program was rated the 24th best program in the world by the Financial Times.[53]

Utrecht is also home to two other large institutions of higher education: the Hogeschool Utrecht (37,000 students),[54] with locations in the city and the Uithof campus, and the HKU Utrecht School of the Arts (3,000 students).

There are many schools for primary and secondary education; allowing for different philosophies and religions as is inherent in the Dutch school system.

Culture[edit]

Miffy statue at the Nijntjepleintje in Utrecht.

Utrecht city has an active cultural life, and in the Netherlands is second only to Amsterdam.[8] Utrecht tried to become cultural capital of Europe in 2018,[55] but the international selection committee ended this aspiration on 30 November 2012.[56]

There are several theatres and theatre companies. The 1941 main city theatre was built by Dudok. Besides theatres there is a large number of cinemas including three arthouse cinemas. Utrecht is host to the Netherlands Film Festival. The city has an important classical music hall Vredenburg (1979 by Herman Hertzberger). Its acoustics are considered among the best of the 20th-century original music halls. Young musicians are educated in the conservatory (a department of the Utrecht School of the Arts). There is a specialised museum of automatically playing musical instruments. Located at the Oudegracht is the rock club Tivoli (which has a second location just outside the centre). There are several other venues for music throughout the city.

There are many art galleries in Utrecht. There are also several foundations to support art, and artists. Training of artists is done at the Utrecht School of the Arts. The Centraal Museum has many exhibitions on the arts, including a permanent exhibition on the works of Utrecht resident illustrator Dick Bruna, who is best known for creating Miffy ("Nijntje", in Dutch). Utrecht also houses one of the landmarks of modern architecture, the 1924 Rietveld Schröder House, which is listed on UNESCO's world heritage sites.

Every Saturday a mason adds another letter to The Letters of Utrecht, an endless poem in the cobblestones of the street in Utrecht. With the Letters, Utrecht has a social sculpture as a growing monument created for the benefit of future people.

To involve the city population as a whole (rather than the elite alone) in the cultural riches of the city, Utrecht city, in collaboration with the different cultural organisations, regularly organise cultural Sundays. During a thematic Sunday several organisations create a program, which is open to everyone without, or with a very much reduced, admission fee. Furthermore there are many initiatives for amateur artists; e.g. in the performing arts, painting and sculpture. The city subsidises an organisation for amateur education in arts aimed at all inhabitants (Utrechts Centrum voor de Kunsten), as does the university for its staff and students. Additionally there are also several private initiatives. The city council provides coupons for discounts to inhabitants who receive welfare to be used with many of the initiatives.

Sports[edit]

Triton rowing club (nl) team pauses with their coach by the Muntbrug, a rotating bridge built in 1887.

Utrecht is home to the premier league (professional) football club FC Utrecht, which plays in Stadium Nieuw Galgenwaard. It is also the home of Kampong, the largest (amateur) sportsclub of the Netherlands (4,500 members), SV Kampong.[57] Kampong features fieldhockey, soccer, cricket, tennis, squash and jeu de boules. Kampong's men and women top hockey squads play in the highest Dutch hockey league, the Rabohoofdklasse.

Utrecht's waterways are used by several rowing clubs. Viking is a large club open to the general public, and the student clubs Orca and Triton compete in the Varsity each year.

In the summer of 2013, Utrecht hosted the European Youth Olympic Festival, in which more than 2,000 young athletes competed in nine different olympic sports.

In the autumn of 2013 it was announced that Utrecht will host the Grand Départ and first stage the Tour de France in July 2015.[58]

Museums[edit]

Duitse Huis in April 1982

Utrecht has several smaller and larger museums. Many of those are located in the southern part of the old town, the Museumkwartier. Aboriginal Art Museum (nl),[59] located at the Oudegracht this museum has a small exhibit of Australian Aboriginal Art

Music and events[edit]

The city has several music venues such as Tivoli Oudegracht, Tivoli De Helling, Vredenburg, EKKO, DBs and RASA. Utrecht hosts the yearly Utrecht Early Music Festival – Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht (nl).[66] In Jaarbeurs it hosts Trance Energy too. Every summer there is the Summer Darkness festival, which celebrates goth culture and music.[67] In November the Le Guess Who? festival, focused on indie rock, art rock and experimental rock, takes place in many of the city's venues together.

Theatre[edit]

There are two main theaters in the city, the Theater Kikker (nl)[68] and the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht (nl)[69] The city also hosts the yearly Festival a/d Werf which offers a selection of contemporary international theater pieces, together with visual arts, public art and music.

Notable people from Utrecht[edit]

Birthplace of Pope Adrian VI
See also the category People from Utrecht

Over the ages famous people have been born and raised in Utrecht. Among the most famous Utrechters are:


International relations[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

Utrecht is twinned with:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Almost all other canal cities in The Netherlands (such as Amsterdam and Delft) have the water in canals bordering directly to the road surface
  2. ^ The term ‘Utrechtenaar’ has become a profane expression for homosexual after the 1730–31 sodomy trials, and has fallen into disuse since. This distinction, however, is not always known by Dutch speakers from outside the region, who may use the term ‘Utrechtenaar’ without being aware of the specific connotation.

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
  • "Utrecht". A Handbook for Travellers on the Continent (8th ed.). London: John Murray. 1851 
  • C.B. Black (1876). "Utrecht". Guide to the North of France, ... Belgium and Holland. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black 
  • "Utrecht". Belgium and Holland (6th ed.). Leipsic: Karl Baedeker. 1881 
Published in the 20th century
  • "Utrecht". The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.). New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1910. OCLC 14782424 

External links[edit]