About the city of Utrecht

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General information about Utrecht

Utrecht is the capital and most populous city in the Dutch province of Utrecht and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of over 350,000. The current mayor if the city is Jan van Zanen.

The History of Utrecht

The origin of the word Utrecht

The name Utrecht is part Dutch and part ancient Roman in origin. The ‘U’ comes from the Old Dutch word “uut”, which means ‘downstream’. The “Trecht” part of the name comes from an old Latin phrase “Traiectum” which in ancient Roman culture indicated a place where one could cross the river Rhine. We word Utrecht is therefore a combination of the two quite logically put.

An illustration depicting the separation of the Church and the State by Protestant Church movement in the Netherlands which occurred in 1848; a bond which remained strong since the settlement of the ancient Romans in Northern Europe. Image credit: Museum Catharijneconvent / CC0

The Castellum Traiectum fortification

It is around Dom square where part of the castellum Traiectum still stands until today. The Traiectum was built by the Romans around 50 AD and formed part of a much greater fortification which extended through Europe and served as a defensive structure which divided the northern border and the Roman Empire to the south. The castellum was rebuilt four times between 50 and 270 AD as you could imagine due to the battles in protest that followed. In fact, even after the eventual departure of the Romans, the Frisians and the Franks fought for a long time over control of the fortress.

Remains of the Castellum Traiectum
Remains of the Castellum Traiectum. Photo credit: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Climate

As like most of the Netherlands, the city of Utrecht experiences a fairly cool climate. The summers are short and may include a few warm and sunny days. During the winter, the temperature can range from anywhere between -20 to +10 degrees Celsius and every winter may not always include snow. Expect many days of precipitation throughout the year and at any given moment.

Education

Utrecht University is the largest university of the Netherlands having been founded in 1636. According to the results of the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2013, Utrecht University claimed first place in the Netherlands as the leading place to pursue higher learning.

Several other institutes for higher education also exist with their many names, sizes and reputations. The more popular ones that are most notably worth mentioning are the Hogeschool Utrecht and the University College Utrecht (if you ever thought it was possible for an educational institution to consist of both words).

Transportation

Due to its central location within the country, it is an important transport hub for both the national railway and other institutions associated with road transport. Utrecht has the second highest number of cultural events in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam making it one of the most popular cities for students.

More general information about Utrecht