The Dutch respect and cherish their culture, history, architecture and traditions. And the city of Utrecht in the heart of the Netherlands is a clear confirmation of this. Throughout its history, it has been part of various tribes, empires, and kingdoms. He was pagan, Catholic, Protestant. Therefore, its historical and cultural heritage is rich and diverse.
The program of acquaintance with Utrecht can be divided into 2 parts - cognitive and recreational. The first includes ancient cathedrals, temples and castles. It is here that the highest church and the largest castle of the country are located. Of interest are the museums of Utrecht - Railway, Jukeboxes, Schroeder's house. The main components of the second part of the program are magnificent parks and gardens, picturesque canals and promenades, cozy pubs and restaurants.
What to see and where to go in Utrecht?
The most interesting and beautiful places for walking. Photos and a brief description.
1. Utrecht Canals
Numerous water channels with moorings are one of the main attractions of the city. On a catamaran, boat or canoe, you can go on a fascinating tour. Oudegracht is the main canal built in the 12th century and permeating the historical center of Utrecht. It is bunk. An additional floor between the water level and the main street used to be for unloading goods, there were storage rooms. Today, the ground floor is occupied by restaurants and cafes.
2. Utrecht Cathedral with a tower
Medieval Gothic temple with the tallest bell tower in the Netherlands. Its height is 112 meters. 465 steps lead to the observation deck. The main building of the cathedral is separated from the tower. This is because part of the structure was destroyed in 1674 by a strong hurricane and was not restored. Today in the cathedral services are held, organ concerts, choral singing. In the courtyard is the Bishop's Garden and a covered arcade with large stained glass windows.
3. Flower market
The Dutch are very sensitive to growing flowers, especially tulips, and caring for them. There are flower markets in all major cities. In Utrecht, it is located on Janskerhof Square, open on Saturdays. The selection of flowers, indoor plants, trees, herbs and seeds is simply unbelievable. And the prices are quite reasonable - a bouquet of 50 luxurious freshly cut tulips will cost only 5-7 euros. There are many bars and cafes in the area where you can eat.
4. Railway Museum
Utrecht serves as the main transportation hub for the Netherlands. Therefore, it is not surprising that the railway museum opened here. It was located in the building of the station, closed in 1921. It is a large exhibition hall with models of stations, a collection of cars and locomotives from different times. Children will be interested in a mini-train, an interactive zone, show rooms. A cafe and a theme store are open for visitors. A train runs from the central city station to the museum.
5. Museum of jukeboxes
The unusual museum has been hosting visitors since 1956. It is located in the oldest temple of the city, built in 1279. His collection presents a variety of devices with mechanical music, from the XVIII century to the present day. Among them are music boxes, toys, watches and mechanical organs, pianols, barrel organ and other mechanisms. Most exhibits are functional. Some can even be made with one’s own hand, but only in the presence of a guide.
6. Central Utrecht Museum
The huge museum complex is housed in the building of the former monastery of St. Agnes. One of the oldest in the Netherlands, founded in 1838. It includes an art gallery with masterpieces of Dutch artists, a collection of medieval sculptures, jewelry, historical costumes, furniture, an archaeological exhibition, an archbishop's museum with religious exhibits, an exposition on the theme of the city and its inhabitants . There is a children's room with gaming workshops.
You can get acquainted with the centuries-old history of Utrecht, see unique archaeological finds, being at a depth of 4.7 meters under Domsky Square. It is here that the original underground museum, created in 2014 using the most modern technologies, is located. Interactive lights are given to visitors, with the help of which exhibits are highlighted, and an audio guide gives complete information about them. Entrance to the museum is possible only through one staircase.
8. Museum of religious art
It is located in the building of the Catholic convent, built in the XII century. Open to visitors since 1978. It contains the largest collection of Christian art in the country from the early Middle Ages to our time. Among the exhibits are church clothes, paintings by famous Dutch artists, ancient manuscripts, books, sculptures, unique artifacts made of gold and silver. Visitors are offered an audio tour of the halls of the museum in several languages.
9. Miffy Museum
Utrecht is the birthplace of artist Dick Brown, the creator of Miffy the Bunny. This lovely hero of children's books and cartoons is known all over the world. One of the city museums is even dedicated to him. Here are toys, sculptures, books, cards with your favorite hero. There are several colorful play areas on various subjects, across the road there is a shop with Miffy souvenirs. The museum is designed for young and middle-aged children. A child ticket is 3 times more expensive than an adult.
10. The Beatrix Theater
Located in the city center, on Jarbeurs Square. Named after the ruling queen of the Netherlands. This is a musical theater where musicals are mainly staged. It was created in 1999. The opening was marked by the staging of one of the most successful musicals - Chicago. Designed for 1500 spectators. An exhibition of paintings and sketches by contemporary artists and famous musicians is posted in the lobby. In front of the entrance there is a 5-meter sculptural composition called “Exposure”.
11. The Botanical Garden
One of the most picturesque and quiet corners of Utrecht. The age is almost 400 years. Belongs to a local university. It covers an area of 8 hectares. Contains greenhouses, a complex of pools, a system of gardens. There was a place for more than 10 thousand species of plants, many birds, reptiles and butterflies. There is a specialized store, cafe, shops for rest. Excursions are planned in such a way as to show visitors the plants that are currently at their peak.
Historical park in the eastern part of the city. Opened to visitors in 1898. It was then that the young Queen Wilhelmina ascended the throne. The design of the park was created in the style of English landscape gardens. Today it is one of the most beautiful parks in the Netherlands, with a large pond and numerous old trees. There is a beach area, places for picnics, and the promenade along the pond is a suitable place for walking and playing sports.
13. The Sonnenborg Observatory
It is located in the walls of an ancient building, which was part of the city bastion in the 16th century. It was founded in 1853 at the initiative of the University of Utrecht. The observatory is public, everyone can watch celestial bodies, but only from September to April. There are 4 telescopes, one of them is the oldest in Europe. The building also houses a museum of astronomy and meteorology, a separate exposition is dedicated to the history of the bastion.
14. House Schroeder
It is under the protection of UNESCO. A unique building in the style of neoplasticism, built almost 100 years ago. It is hard to believe, since its unusual design is today a delight. It was built according to the idea of Truss Schroeder, she lived here until 1985. Then the building was restored and turned into a museum. The house has two floors, there are no internal walls, all the furniture folds compactly, an elevator for food delivery goes between the floors, the doors are opened with buttons and levers.
15. Castle De Haar
Located 20 km from Utrecht, in the village of Harzulens. The majestic castle with numerous towers, gates, bridges, perimeter ditches, landscape parks and gardens. One of the most beautiful in Europe. It was built in the XIV century, but acquired its present form after reconstruction in the XIX century. Until 2011, it belonged to the van Zeulen family. Inside the palace there are 200 living quarters with luxurious decor, a large collection of paintings, tapestries, porcelain and antique furniture.
1. St. Martin's Cathedral
In the center of Utrecht, next to Cathedral Square, is the Cathedral of St. Martin (Cathedral), one of the most important churches in the Netherlands. In the beginning, it was built as a church of the Reformation, but since 1580 it has been considered as a church for Protestants.
The construction of the church began in 1254 on the foundations of an older Romanesque church, the sights of the cathedral are the choir of the 14th century, the transept (transverse nave) of the 15th century, and two chapels. St. Martin's Cathedral is located next to the cathedral tower. In the beginning, they were interconnected, but the tornado in 1674 caused the collapse of the nave of the cathedral, as a result of which the cathedral and the cathedral tower were separated from each other.
2. Cathedral Tower (The Domtoren: The Cathedral Tower)
The tower, which is completely separated from St. Martin's Cathedral, was once a symbol of Episcopal influence in the Netherlands. The Cathedral Tower was the tallest building in the country during the Middle Ages, and now remains the tallest bell tower in the Netherlands, the height of the bell tower is 112 meters.
The cathedral tower offers magnificent panoramic views of the old city and Domplein Square. The Cathedral Tower is rightfully considered the main attraction of Utrecht, it is believed that it was built exactly in the place where the city of Utrecht was founded 2,000 years ago.
3. Museum of Wrede (Museum Catharijneconvent)
Wrede is the national museum of religious art in Utrecht. The museum is located in the former "Catharijneconvent" monastery, which was probably founded in the 12th century, and is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. The museum was opened in 1978, it has the largest collection in the country of medieval art values of religious art.
4. Castle de Haar
Built by the Dutch architect Peter Cooper, Castle De Haar is not only the largest castle in the Netherlands, but also one of the most famous, thanks to its fabulous appearance. It is so large that when it was built in 1822, the entire village of "Haarzuilens" had to be moved. De Haar Castle is located just 16 kilometers west of Utrecht, where you can get acquainted with a large collection of antiquities, furniture, paintings and tapestries, along with its rich decor, including decorative carved wooden chairs and tables, as well as dishes.
6. Central Museum (Centraal Museum)
The Central Museum was opened in Utrecht in 1838 and is thus the oldest city museum in the Netherlands. For more than 150 years, this museum shows that Utrecht has always been a center of innovative art and design.
7. The Kaiser's House in Doorn
In the picturesque small town of Dorn, near Utrecht, there is a house in which he lived after the exile and died of the Kaiser of Germany, William II. After losing in World War I, Kaiser bought the “Huis Doorn” in 1920 and lived there until his death in 1941 (he is buried in the mausoleum). Originally a medieval castle, the house was rebuilt in the classical style in the 18th century. Kaiser House is located in a large and beautiful park and is open to the public as a museum. The house is fully preserved atmosphere as during the life of the Kaiser.
10. Church of St. Peter (St. Pieterskerk)
Just a few minutes walk north of St. Martin's Cathedral is St. Peter's Church, the first of the city's churches. The church was consecrated back in 1048 and is distinguished by its two towers in the Romanesque style; the church has a crypt with the sarcophagus of the founder, Bishop Bernold. To visit all the attractions of Utrecht you should book a city tour.
Related article: Sights of Strasbourg
Utrecht Dome Tower
Over the center of Utrecht rises a huge 112.5-meter building - the Dome Tower. It is clearly visible from anywhere in the city and is one of its most iconic sights. The tower was built in 1321 and stands separately from St. Martin's Cathedral.
The tower houses the bell tower - a group of 14 medieval bells with a total weight of 32,000 kilograms. On weekdays, at certain intervals from the tower, a bell ringing is still heard, and on Saturdays real carillon concerts are held here.
Inside there is a special room where visitors can familiarize themselves with the history of the tower and buy original souvenirs. Climbing up the stairs of 465 steps, you will see a fantastic panorama of the Netherlands, and you can even see in the distance Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
Address: The Dom Tower, Domplein 21, 3512 JC Utrecht, The Netherlands.
DOMunder is located in the same place as the Dome Tower and St. Martin's Cathedral in Domplein Square. Going down to a depth of 4.7 m, you will find yourself in an unusual underground museum telling about the 2,000-year-old history of Utrecht.
The museum was opened in 2014 and is equipped with the most advanced technologies. Interactive flashlights are given to visitors, with the help of which exhibits are highlighted. Among the unique archaeological finds, fragments of stone walls of an ancient Roman fortress, which stood on the site of the current Domplein Square.
Address: DOMunder, Domplein, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
University of Utrecht Botanical Garden
The famous Utrecht Botanical Garden belongs to the local university and is located in the eastern part of the city. The garden area of 8 hectares is divided into 6 zones, including a rock garden, a fort area with many varieties of flowers, as well as a wildlife garden where various species of birds, reptiles and insects live.
In the Utrecht Botanical Garden you will see many beautiful fountains and more than 10,000 species of vegetation. In addition, in the greenhouse you can admire the unique collection of butterflies - it impresses with the richness and diversity of the presented species, including such beautiful species as Morpho and Atlas Moths.
Address: Utrecht Botanical Gardens, Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Flower Market Janskerhof
Every Saturday, a large flower market opens in the town square of Janskerhof. It is located next to the medieval church, within walking distance of the Dome Cathedral tower and the main city square.
Unlike Amsterdam's flower markets, which focus mainly on tulips, Utrecht's market is simply amazing with a variety of potted plants, cut flowers, seedlings, herbs and seeds.
The riot of smells and colors attracts many tourists here. In addition, this is a great place where you can feel the atmosphere of a real flower market, make some colorful frames or buy a small original souvenir.
Address: Janskerkhof flower market, Neude Janskerkhof en Domplein, 3512 JE Utrecht, Netherlands.
Church of St. Willibrord
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Willibrord is a prime example of neo-Gothic style architecture. It is located in the center of Utrecht - not far from the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Dome Tower. The temple was erected in the 1800s, making it a relatively new religious building in the region.
Outside, the building stands out for its tall and narrow design, inside - an incredibly elegant and luxurious design. The magnificent interior is really striking in its bright colors and numerous works of art.
Colorful stained-glass windows are framed by arched openings, and on the columns and ceiling there are many decorative elements of saturated colors - green, orange and gold. For lovers of beautiful architecture, the Church of St. Willibrord is a must-see attraction in Utrecht.
Address: Sint Willibrordkerk, Minrebroederstraat, Utrecht, Netherlands.
The large city park, located east of Utrecht, is an ideal place to stay and relax in the fresh air on the way to the Botanical Garden. The park was created in the English landscape style according to the project of the Dutch garden architect Hendrik Kopeyn. It was first opened to visitors in 1898.
The park has many beautiful statues and monuments (including the statue of Queen Wilhelmina, in whose honor the park got its name). In addition, you will see a large number of bike paths, the Tea House, a beautiful rose garden, a large Central Pond and many wonderful trees and diverse vegetation.
Address: Wilhelminapark, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Museum of the Monastery of St. Catherine
This museum is located in the southern part of Utrecht - in the monastery of St. Catherine, and is dedicated to works of church art. The museum has a huge collection of historical exhibits and works of art, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Among them are ancient manuscripts, first-printed books in precious bindings, icons, wooden sculptures, statues of saints, church utensils and rich vestments of clergy, altars, gold and silver items. Dutch Golden Age painting is represented by canvases by Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Jan van Skorel.
Address: Museum Catharijneconvent, Lange Nieuwstraat, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Domplein is one of the central squares of Utrecht, which is part of all the popular tourist routes around the city. Utrecht's famous landmarks such as the Dome Tower and St. Martin's Cathedral are located in the square.
In addition, on the square itself and in the lanes closest to it, you will find many restaurants, cafes and bars. Thanks to its convenient location, Domplein is a great place to start an exciting journey through Utrecht.
Address: Domplein, Utrecht, Netherlands.
The highlight of your stay in Utrecht will be the opportunity to stroll along the beautiful old canal Oudegracht. It passes through the central part of the city from southeast to north. In the southern part, the canal runs along a route that was once part of the Rhine, while the northern part of Oudegracht includes segments of the canal, which was built around the year 1000 BC. e. and connected the Rhine with the river Fechte.
In 1275, after the construction of the Utrecht gateway network was completed, numerous moorings, piers and warehouses began to appear on the banks of the canal. Today, many of these old buildings and premises have been turned into restaurants, cafes, galleries and boutiques.
Address: Canal Oudegracht, Oudegracht, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Residence of the pope
Usually only those attending conferences and special events are allowed to enter this building. However, nobody is forbidden to admire the appearance of this magnificent 500-year-old mansion.
The building was originally built as a home for Utrian native Adrian Buyens, who was elected Pope of Rome in 1522. Adrian VI became the first and only Dutchman to ascend the papal throne.
Address: Paushuize, Kromme Nieuwegracht, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Utrecht Academy Building
This is the main building of the University of Utrecht, located on the corner of Domplein Square. Behind the neo-Renaissance style facade dating from 1892 are the older ceremonial buildings of the University of Utrecht.
The oldest building is the auditorium in the former chapter building of 1462. It was here that in 1579 the Utrecht Agreement was signed, which, in fact, laid the foundation for the formation of a new legal state - the Republic of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.
Address: Academiegebouw Universiteit Utrecht, Domplein, Utrecht, Netherlands.
A brief history of the city
|Tour de France kicked off in Utrecht in 2015|
|A memorial pillar reminiscent of the Roman Trajectum|
|Cathedral transept view|
|Monument to the merchant in the fish market|
What to see
|Monument "Resistance" near the rest of the cathedral|
No doubt Utrecht Cathedral refers to the masterpieces of Dutch Gothic. The construction of a modern building began in 1254 with an apse. Then they erected a tower 106.75 meters high, which became a real symbol of the city. Tower crowned with a weather vane with the figure of St. Martin - the patron saint of the city and the Cathedral. St. Martin's Cathedral is still the tallest church building in the Netherlands.
|The tower of the cathedral 112 meters high - a symbol of Utrecht|
|Arcbutans of the Altar|
|Passage under the tower|
In the preserved part the cathedral you can look at the burial places of the bishops of Utrecht, once the most powerful churchmen and landowners of the Netherlands, and you can also see preserved stained glass windows. Near the church is preserved and cloister , which now serves as a pretty garden, where more than 140 species of different plants grow.
Here in the square stands main university building , built here in 1892 in the neo-renaissance style. Major university ceremonies and events are held in this building.
|Channel Level - Far Below Street|
|Cafe on the site of the former port warehouses, in the background is Ouden Castle|
|View of the tower and city hall.|
Now everything is much better and Neide is the real heart of the city with its cafes, a gorgeous view of the bell tower of the cathedral, old and modern houses and the famous Thinker.
|Even in the morning, Utrecht cafes, famous throughout the country, are gradually filled with visitors.|
|One of the iconic sculptures of the city|
Not far from here, in the flower market near the church of St. John, there is a monument to the baptist of the city: Bishop Willibrod. It was a monk who came from the British Isles. Around 695, the king of the Franks transferred the territory of modern Utrecht to Willibrod and appointed him bishop. Willibrod restored the old castrum and built the church of St. Martin on the site of the future cathedral. So the first spiritual center of Holland arose, from where the Christianization of the local Germanic tribes, the Frisians, began. The Utrecht bishopric was the most important and richest: they owned half of the modern Netherlands. However, over time, the territory had to cede in the struggle with the counts of Holland. Be that as it may, it was the creation of the bishopric that determined the role, status and future of Utrecht.
|Statue of Bishop Willibrod|
Wherever you go in the city, bicycles will chase you everywhere. Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the country, and it accounts for 245 km of bike paths, special underground and underground parking lots are organized (parking is free for bicycles, it’s insanely expensive for cars, that’s such an incentive).
|In the former warehouses, parking for bicycles is also arranged.|
Considering that there are 72,000 students in the city, bicycles are in great demand, so you can find second-hand bike shops around every corner: inexpensive, but there is still a means of transportation.
|Used bike shop|
You will tell me that in all cities of the Netherlands they ride bicycles, they steal, sell, park in multi-storey garages. That's right, but not every city has the honor of starting the famous Tour de France race. Utrecht was given such an opportunity in 2015.
|Conservatory of Utrecht|
Walking around the city, wander through non-tourist squares and streets: quiet, cozy, they will give you a greater impression of the city than all the attractions combined. It immediately becomes clear why Utrecht is a dynamically developing city, the population of which, according to forecasts, should grow to 360 thousand by 2030, why it is good to live and work here.
|Cozy streets of Utrecht|
Museum Quarter The city is located south of Cathedral Square. Actually, on the Cathedral Square itself you can already go to museums.
Cathedral Museum DOMunder will tell you about the ancient Utrecht and the secrets of its cathedral. The museum was created underground, they let them go there, about this you can consult on the site. Entrance ticket - 11 euros. Daily except Monday.
Not far from the fish market is music watch museum . A very interesting museum for those who like such technical devices, every day, except Monday, a ticket of 12 euros.
|Miffy the bunny in Dutch sounds like Nintier|
Dirk Brun Museum or Miffey Museum (in the Dutch Nijntijemuseum) - a museum for young children who are interested in knowing the world with the main Dutch book character Miffy (this name is an English version, his local name is Nainthier). Entrance ticket for children - 7.50, family ticket - 17 euros. Open daily except Mondays.
|The former church of St. Katerina is one of the iconic museums of the city.|
One of the main museums of the city - museum in the former church of St. Catherine . Here are presented the objects of religious art of the Netherlands, from books made by the Utrecht school of clerks to objects of liturgy and altar paintings. Opening hours: 10: 00-17: 00 (Tuesday-Saturday), 11: 00-17: 00 (Sunday), entrance ticket 12 euros.
Central Museum - The Museum of Painting, the most iconic in the city, at least in terms of the number of visitors. Here you can see the works of contemporary authors, and, in particular, local celebrities: Dirk Bruna and Rietveld. Open daily, except Mondays, 11: 00-17: 00. A reservation is required to visit Schroeder's house. Entrance ticket 15.50 euros.
Railway museum It will be interesting to both adults and children. Open daily, except Mondays, 10: 00-17: 00. Entrance ticket 12.80 euros.
University Museum and the old botanical garden. The museum is open daily 10: 00-17: 00, entrance ticket 8 euros. Only the botanical garden - 2.50 euros.