Utrecht, the best of The Netherlands

As ever it is always fascinating to see how others view Utrecht, this time I came upon the Sortir Grand Paris page from Telerama in France.

They have a unique view and headline their article

Utrecht, the best of Holland … without the tourists!

Which I am sure we can relate to when we face the ever crowded streets of the city.

“Here, no red district and few visitors, the canals are quiet. Surprise: this old city hides a treasure of De Stijl movement.” Sortir Grand Paris tells us

They compare Utrecht to Amsterdam and as we all know there is only one winner there! Sortir Grand Paris tells us

“There are more medieval remains than in Amsterdam. And miles of canals, quaint little streets, old churches. In short, all that we appreciate in Amsterdam, but with a difference in size: there are few tourists in Utrecht. Here, no risk of being drowned under the selfie sticks!”

This article was written only last week, so they must have captured Utrecht on a very quiet day or all the students had gone home for the weekend!

Sortir Grand Paris continues:

“That does not make it a sad city, on the contrary. Utrecht was born in 1636, the first university in the country, and today it is still the largest. More than 70,000 students enliven the streets. Local specificity, the canals are equipped with platforms, this is not the case in Amsterdam. So you can walk closer to the water, along the vast cellars that were used to store the goods arrived by the canal. Utrecht has more than 700! So many wineries often become cozy bars or restaurants. With terrace from the first rays of sun.”

Sounds enchanting and as we know it certainly can be, but I still wonder where were all the visitors?

“This interweaving of canals and alleys clearly stands out from the top of the Dom, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, six hundred years old. On a clear day, it seems we can even see Amsterdam! At the foot of the Dom, unfolds the cathedral: in 1674, a storm destroyed the nave. Only the transept and the choir resisted. To find the pillars of the nave, we can go down … underground. An archaeological visit reveals what is hidden under the central square (which replaced the nave). There are also walls dating from the Romans. For they are the first inhabitants of the place, installing here in 47 AD a garrison.”

Sounds fascinating, but then we have all done this haven’t we? And if not, it is a sure fire place to impress the kids!

As we know and Sortir Grand Paris confirms:

“Utrecht does not only contain old stones. The city even has a treasure, classified by UNESCO since 2000: the house Rietveld Schröder,created in 1924 by local architect Gerrit Rietveld, figure of De Stijl movement. A current well represented in the region, because Theo Van Doesburg and Bart Van der Leck were born in Utrecht; Piet Mondrian, a few kilometers away. Facing the house, we have the disturbing impression of watching a painting of Mondrian in 3D. Inside, we find yellow, blue, red. An incredibly daring place for the time, with large windows to bring the outside inside, and vice versa. On the floor, thanks to clever moving partitions, the rooms disappear to free a vast space. Beds turn into sofas, tables vanish. A host of ideas, still very inspiring nearly a century later for any city dweller lacking space. We also find the iconic chairs of Rietveld, the “Red and Blue” and the “Zig Zag”. Nearby, the Centraal Museum has the largest collection of objects of the designer.”

Sortir Grand Paris goes on to tell us:

“In the same area, one can also visit the villa of Mart van Schijndel, designed in 1992 by this inventive Dutch architect. Wedged between houses, in the center of Utrecht, this house offers a huge interior space, triangular, inhabited by light. It is furnished with designer objects, including surprising chairs, with the seat cut in half. And yet, it holds. “Mart liked to draw things that were thought impossible,” recalls the designer’s widow.”

So, a really interesting article that showcases Utrecht once again. All this wonderful publicity will mean the days of few visitors compared to Amsterdam will be over.

Will that be a good thing or should Utrechters want to keep Utrecht to them selves?

 

 

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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.

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