According to Aviationopedia, Utrecht is the capital of the province of the same name. Thanks to its central location, Utrecht has been able to grow into the fourth largest city in the Netherlands. The Romans already discovered around the year 50 that this was a great place strategically. They already built a fort here. Utrecht received city rights quite early (in 1122). That was the starting signal to start with ramparts. You can still see these fortifications in various ways in the cityscape. For example, the famous Oudegracht was built at that time and you can see that the Utrecht city center follows the pattern of the old fortifications. Until the Golden Age, Utrecht was the largest city in the northern Netherlands. Then followed a stagnation in population growth,
Nowadays, Utrecht is quite a popular city for a day trip or a multi-day city trip. The favorable location is again an important factor here, but also the fact that there are plenty of things to see and experience in Utrecht. Thanks to the various events, the Jaarbeurs is a driver of tourism to Utrecht and the nearby Beatrix Theater also provides the necessary visitors. Furthermore, Utrecht is a great city for a day of shopping and has a variety of fascinating museums and other sights. We have already made a top 10 of the best sights in Utrecht, so that you can be sure that you do not have to miss the most important highlights of this city.
Top 10 sights of Utrecht
#1. Dom of Utrecht
The Gothic Dom Church in the heart of Utrecht is a symbol of the city. The Dom was built in 1254 and has since undergone many restorations and renovations. The most drastic adjustment was the collapse of the nave in 1674 and the demolition of that part in 1826. Since then, the tower has stood apart from the rest. The Gothic church is originally a Roman Catholic church. The Dom van Utrecht has been a Protestant church since 1580. The austerity in the interior reveals this immediately upon entering. You can walk into the Utrecht Dom for free. A voluntary donation is appreciated.
With a height of more than 112 meters, the Domtoren is the highest church tower in the Netherlands. The inside is also remarkable. A mosaic floor from the thirteenth century or wall paintings from 1430 are no exceptions. If you want to enjoy a spectacular view, you should definitely climb the tower. That is quite an effort given the height. In total you have to climb 465 steps to enjoy the view over Utrecht.
#2. Wharf cellars
You will find the phenomenon of canals in various Dutch cities. Amsterdam is even famous for it. Perhaps the Utrecht canals are even more characteristic. This is due to the presence of the so-called wharf cellars. You really only see them in Utrecht. These cellars were built in the canals since 1150. They are intended as storage and transit space for goods that could be brought in and out over water on the ground floor. Nowadays, goods are no longer transported through the canals and the wharf cellars have lost their original role. The cellars have been given new functions. There are quite a few catering establishments in the cellars. The terraces installed below street level are often used as a catering terrace. Some wharf cellars have been transformed into (extensions of) homes or offices. Some wharf cellars are still used as storage places.
#3. Railway Museum
The city of Utrecht has been an important rail hub within the Netherlands for many years. It is even so bad that if Utrecht Central Station has problems, train traffic in a large part of the country will be disrupted. It is almost self-evident that in a city like Utrecht there is a museum that shows the history of the railways and trains in the Netherlands. The Railway Museumis now located in and around the former Maliebaan station. It is a broadly oriented museum in which all facets of railways and trains are reviewed. Of course you can see different train sets here in real life, such as various steam locomotives from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and electric trains including the Hondekop and the Sprinter.
Nowadays you can reach the Railway Museum by train. This is possible via a special shuttle service that runs from Utrecht Central Station to Utrecht Maliebaan. This happens every hour, during the opening hours of the Railway Museum. You no longer need to buy a special ticket for this. Since Utrecht Maliebaan is a regular rate point, you can pay for the journey via your public transport card.
#4. Central Museum
The Centraal Museum is a popular cultural attraction in the city of Utrecht. Art and culture are central to this museum. Both old and modern art are combined here in a special way. Also in terms of costumes, old and new are intertwined. In addition to the 18th century costumes, you can also find creations by the fashion duo Victor & Rolf. With a visit to this museum you get a great picture of the city of Utrecht and its history. The Miffy Museum and the Rietveld Schröder House are part of the Central Museum.
Utrecht has a number of courtyards. These are courtyards or inner gardens around which a number of houses are located. These types of almshouses were often built as a charity almshouse or with a religious background, such as a beguinage. In some cases, poverty was a reason to found an almshouse. Workers’ courtyards were intended for people with little money. Some of these special places have stood the test of time. This is also the case in Utrecht. There, for example, the Bruntenhof and the Doelenhofje are beloved oases of tranquility within the increasingly busy city center. Some courtyards allow visitors during the day. In any case, respect the privacy and tranquility of the residents.
#6. City Hall
Of all the monumental buildings in Utrecht, the town hall is certainly one of the most striking. This is due to the neoclassical facade dominated by four Doric columns. This makes the building appear older than it is. The oldest and most present part of the city hall of Utrecht dates from 1830. It was designed by city architect Johannes van Embden. The location on the Oudegracht provides an extra beautiful picture.
#7. Museum Play Clock
Since 1956 you can visit Museum Speelklok in Utrecht. The National Museum used to be called van Speelklok tot Pierement. The name has changed, the content has been quite identical for years. In Museum Speelklok you can get acquainted with the wonderful world of automatically playing musical instruments. Within the collection you will find, among other things, music boxes, clocks with music works, dance organs and of course the barrel organs that are considered typically Dutch. If you want to know everything about these automatic instruments, you can choose to participate in the guided tour. No surcharge has to be paid for this.
#8. Rietveld Schröder House
Gerrit Thomas Rietveld is considered one of the more important Dutch architects and furniture designers of the twentieth century. Rietveld was a member of the art movement De Stijl, among others, and joined the new building movement in the 1930s. The most famous building designed by Rietveld is the Rietveld Schröder House. It was commissioned by Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and built in the year 1924. Since then it has been considered one of the icons of the Modern Movement in architecture. The house is now a museum. The Rietveld Schröder Househas been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000, so that hopefully many generations after us can enjoy the way Rietveld designed this Utrecht house.
#9. Oudegracht 133
You will discover numerous monumental buildings along the canals of Utrecht. Classic facade styles such as stepped gables, bell gables and gables are ready to be discovered during a walk through the historic city center of Utrecht. Also note the sometimes very special facing bricks that you find on some facades. These decorative stones were the predecessors of house numbers. Partly due to its length, the Oudegracht is a nice location to look at houses. A building that may be specifically mentioned is house number 133 on the Oudegracht. This canal house dates from the fourteenth century, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in Utrecht. The bell gable was added more recently: in the 18th century. In addition, this is the smallest house on the Oudegracht. This is partly due to the fact that the original building was divided in two in 1581.
#10. Castle the hair
De Haar Castle is actually located just outside the city of Utrecht. It belongs to the town of Haarzuilens, which in turn is part of the municipality of Utrecht. By public transport you can easily be on the road from Utrecht Central Station in an hour, while it is only 10 kilometers away. Kasteel de Haar is an impressive monumental castle. The neo-Gothic design comes into its own, partly due to the red-brown brick. Feel free to take some time if you want to visit Kasteel de Haar. After all, the medieval castle is the largest castle in the Netherlands. Here you can see how the wealthy Van Zuylen family used to live after payment. The park and gardens with a total area of 55 hectares surround the castle.