I read an article the other day about the fourth largest city in the Netherlands

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I read an article the other day about the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, yes, Utrecht.

It never strikes me as being such a large city as it always seems so compact and accessible. That’s why I love it so much. I see it more like a village. I stroll around the streets with my son and he knows everyone. It is friendly and peaceful. The perfect place for young and old. You will have seen an earlier article here about high tech start ups in the city, but it is the historic resonance that makes Utrecht what it is.

It’s a city that is both small and open minded, has history yet embraces the new, always acknowledging the gloried past of Utrecht whilst, as we see with CU2030, upgrading and renewing all the time.

Even though there are over 340.000 residents, more when you count all the students from the Netherlands and abroad. You can cross the whole city easily on foot. I love the areas for pedestrians-only making up most of the city centre, which makes it even easier to stroll around.

The unique feature (yes, I know Amsterdam has canals!) are Utrecht’s inner-city canals. The wharves give them a unique feature. When at the Oudegracht you’ll find bars and restaurants below the street at water level. Back in the 1200s merchant ships used to drop off their goods which were stored in the warehouses alongside the wharf. Nowadays, restaurants, bars, shops and even night clubs have replaced former warehouses, all for the better I’m sure you think. A night out as the canal gently laps a few metres away is the most romantic of times. Utrecht city of romance, is that the next great by-line?

The same gentrification on the Nieuwegracht has also attracted a few new businesses operating there, and they are a pleasant place to take a stroll and enjoy the romance in the air!

Utrecht University, is the largest university in the Netherlands. and is also one of the oldest, established in 1636. It is renowned for its work in Science over the centuries.

Utrecht has the busiest and perhaps most architecturally progressive train station in the Netherlands, it is also the busiest with 900 train journeys departing from Utrecht on any working day. Here in the city we are linked to the whole country as well as many major cities abroad. Despite its problems, the Dutch railway system is still a beacon of excellence.

The historic city centre of Utrecht has been an important centre of Christianity since the 8th century and was for hundreds of years the most important city in the Netherlands. During the Dutch Golden Age, this honour was passed onto Amsterdam. Do we think we are missing out?

You can spend days visiting the varied historical sites of Utrecht, but the focal point of the city is the famous Dom Toren. Seen from almost every vantage point in Utrecht it dominates the city and is a must visit site. When the renovations are finished it will once again be the place to be seen at. Why not climb the tower? Exhausting to do so but the views of the city when you get there are so worthwhile. It is still amazing to think that the tower was once connected to the cathedral of Saint Martin across the street but that when it was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt, the Dom Toren stands alone, overlooking the city and its surrounding areas.

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar Jane says:

    Nice blog. However, Utrecht is not in Holland. It is in the Netherlands though.

  2. Avatar Jon Wilkins says:

    You are so sweet, thank you

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