Utrecht is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands, with a population of more than 0.25 million. Utrecht's central location in the Netherlands makes it an attractive city to live in and a favorite enterprise location. Utrecht has a rich history that goes back to the beginning of our calendar. The old inner-city, with its canals and cellars by the wharves, ancient churches, and of course the Dom tower, lend a special character to the city.
History of Utrecht
Utrecht was inhabited by the Romans in 47 AD (yes, 1,954 years ago) by a ford in the river Rhine. The Latin name for a river crossing was 'Trajectum' or 'Ultra Trajectum', which was later mispronounced by the natives as 'Ultrajectum', 'Trecht' and then 'Utrecht'.
In 690 AD the first bishop of Utrecht, Willibrord, returned to the fort and built a church on the site which now houses the Dom Square. This was the foundation for Utrecht's role as a religious centre.
In the 11th century bishop Bernulphus planned five churches in the form of a cross, with the Cathedral as it's centre. By this time Utrecht had attracted the interest of many merchants who dug its canals and built its wharves, many of which remain in use today.
Construction of the Dom church began in the late 13th century. The church displays strong architectural influences from France and Cologne and was completed, together with its 112-metres high tower, in the 14th century. The middle section of the church was later destroyed by a tornado, but the spire is still standing and is the most important landmark of the city.
After the middle ages the area enclosed by the city walls (14th century) was slowly filled up, providing housing for the poorer population. Many of these houses are still occupied to this date. The city walls and outer canals fell into disrepair by the 16th century and were converted to parkland.
By the 17th century Utrecht had no significant trade, in stark contrast to other cities of the Republic where shipping was an important stimulus. Attempts to expand and rebuild the city were not geared towards upgrading the living conditions of the general public, but were meant to enhance the scenery. The population fell to just 25,000 in 1784, but soon recovered and reached 42,000 in 1865. After that people started moving to the suburbs and the population of the old city fell once again. In comparison, about 14,000 people live in the old city centre today
Utrecht is a Knowledge Centre
Looking for a lively and attractive city to study in, offering an abundance of cultural, sports and entertainment activities? Do you find studying in the heart of The Netherlands an appealing idea?
Then Utrecht is the place for you. Utrecht University offers its students top-class facilities in the field of sports and culture. She also has a large number of organisations and student associations you can join.
Utrecht University is the largest university in The Netherlands. More than 57,000 students are enrolled in higher education in Utrecht. As such, the composition of its population is rather young and Utrecht has the highest educated labor force in The Netherlands.
Mrs. Annie Brouwer-Korf
Lady Mayor of Utrecht
We would like to express our thanks to Mrs. Brouwer-Korf for supporting the Utrecht athletes and accepting the EuroGames Flag on our behalf at the EuroGames München.
Utrecht Web Cam
Take a look at Utrecht now!
Open the Utrecht webcam which is located on top of the 50 metres high Neudeflat in the city centre. Windows Media Player or Real Player required.
The Dom Tower
It is in Utrecht, where the highest church tower of The Netherlands is located. This 112 meters high Dom Tower was separated from the Dom Church by a tornado storm in August 1674. You can climb the 462 steps if you have the energy, sneakers and no fear of heights. The tower commands an amazing view of the city and surrounding countryside from its peak.
Another obligatory sight is the canals. We have two running north-south called the Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht (New Canal), and a canal running around the old city walls (called the Singel). Don't be fooled by the name 'New Canal'. It's from the 14th century, and very pretty indeed. The canals of Utrecht are unique because of the pedestrian walkways (wharfs) on either side. There are many canal side cafes along the Oudegracht. A good way to explore the inner and outer canals is by Canal Bike.
Shop till you drop
The main shopping center is also Utrecht's principal entertainment area. Crowded together in the criss-cross of narrow streets dating back to the Middle Ages, shops stand alongside bars and disco's at street level, with residential apartments above.