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 terraces.
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.