Escorted Rail Tours to Utrecht
A vibrant Netherlands city of medieval masonry, museums and modern malls
Although settlements in the area can be traced to the Stone Age,
Utrecht, like so many cities, rose to prominence with the arrival
of the Romans who built a fort near the banks of the River Rhine
around which a settlement grew. Remains of the original Roman city
wall can still be seen today.
By the twelfth century Utrecht had become an important centre
for trade thanks to its position on the Rhine, and was granted city
status in 1122. Many of Utrecht's most historic buildings, and
particularly churches and the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral
date from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and form what is now
known as the city's Medieval Centre.
This is where Utrecht's almost unique inner-city wharf can be
found, on the Oudegracht Canal which runs through the heart of the
city. Today the ancient merchant's storehouses have been converted
into shops, restaurants and cafes with attractive canal-side
Whilst admiring Utrecht's outstanding architecture - both
historic and modern - and exploring its many museums are fine ways
to pass time in the city there is plenty more to see and do. Hiring
a bicycle offers an enjoyable means of exploring this vibrant and
colourful university city, and for many visitors an open-topped
boat cruise along the picturesque canal is a must.
Utrecht's sights and attractions
St Martin's Cathedral
The construction, in the Dutch-Gothic style of St Martin's
Cathedral (also known as the Dom Church) began in 1284 and ended in
1520. Its separate bell tower, the 112 metre tall Domtoren is the
tallest in the Netherlands and can be climbed to obtain spectacular
views, with the distant cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam visible
on clear days.
Utrecht's historic split-level canal system (street level and canal
level) is both hugely picturesque and fascinating to explore
whether on foot - the old part of the city is largely
pedestrianised, or from the water itself where boat-trips and
water-bicycles can be obtained.
The Rietveld-Schröderhuis, built in 1924 by Utrecht architect
Gerrit Rietveld is a UNESCO-listed site and a remarkable building.
Constructed in the contemporary and abstract De Stijl architectural
style, which dictates only the use of primary colours, squares,
rectangles and straight lines, Rietveld-Schröderhuis is an
avant-garde architectural curiosity.
Fort Hoofddijk Botanic Gardens
Fort Hoofddijk, part of the campus of the University of Utrecht,
features beautiful botanic gardens where visitors may admire more
than six thousand different species of plants and flowers,
collected over 350 years. Highlights include a ten-metre high
Alpine rock garden and waterfall, and a collection of plants from
the rainforests of South America.