Utrecht (/ˈjuːtrɛkt/ YOO-trekt, also UK: /juːˈtrɛxt/ yoo-TREKHT,[6][7] Dutch: [ˈytrɛxt] (listen)) is the fourth-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and in the very centre of mainland Netherlands, and had a population of 345,080 in 2017.

Utrecht's ancient city centre features many buildings and structures, several dating as far back as the High Middle Ages. It has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century. It lost the status of prince-bishopric but remains the main religious centre in the country. Utrecht was the most important city in the Netherlands until the Dutch Golden Age, when it was surpassed by Amsterdam as the country's cultural centre and most populous city.

Utrecht is host to Utrecht University, the largest university in the Netherlands, as well as several other institutions of higher education. Due to its central position within the country, it is an important transport hub for both rail and road transport. It has the second highest number of cultural events in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam.[8] In 2012, Lonely Planet included Utrecht in the top 10 of the world's unsung places.[9]

Utrecht Altstadt 32
Utrecht Altstadt 07
Sol Lumen
Utrecht Altstadt 14
Utrecht Altstadt 21
Photographs of the city, with the Dom Tower of St. Martin's Cathedral in the centre
Coat of arms of Utrecht

Coat of arms
Location in Utrecht
Location in Utrecht
Coordinates: 52°5′N 5°7′E / 52.083°N 5.117°ECoordinates: 52°5′N 5°7′E / 52.083°N 5.117°E
Country Netherlands
Province Utrecht
 • BodyMunicipal council
 • MayorJan van Zanen (VVD)
 • Municipality99.21 km2 (38.31 sq mi)
 • Land94.33 km2 (36.42 sq mi)
 • Water4.88 km2 (1.88 sq mi)
 • Randstad3,043 km2 (1,175 sq mi)
Elevation5 m (16 ft)
 (Municipality, August 2017; Urban and Metro, May 2014; Randstad, 2011)[2][4][5]
 • Municipality345,080
 • Density3,658/km2 (9,470/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
 • Randstad
Demonym(s)Utrechter(s) [nb 1]
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
3450–3455, 3500–3585
Area code030


Origins (until 650)

Traiectum - Wttecht - Utrecht (Atlas van Loon)
Willem Blaeu's 1652 map of Utrecht

Although there is some evidence of earlier inhabitation in the region of Utrecht, dating back to the Stone Age (app. 2200 BCE) and settling in the Bronze Age (app. 1800–800 BCE),[10] the founding date of the city is usually related to the construction of a Roman fortification (castellum), probably built in around 50 CE. A series of such fortresses was built after the Roman emperor Claudius decided the empire should not expand further north. To consolidate the border, the Limes Germanicus defense line was constructed[11] along the main branch of the river Rhine, which at that time flowed through a more northern bed compared to today (what is now the Kromme Rijn). These fortresses were designed to house a cohort of about 500 Roman soldiers. Near the fort, settlements would grow housing artisans, traders and soldiers' wives and children.

In Roman times, the name of the Utrecht fortress was simply Traiectum, denoting its location at a possible Rhine crossing. Traiectum became Dutch Trecht; with the U from Old Dutch "uut" (downriver) added to distinguish U-trecht from Maas-tricht.[12][13] In 11th-century official documents, it was Latinized as Ultra Traiectum. Around the year 200, the wooden walls of the fortification were replaced by sturdier tuff stone walls,[14] remnants of which are still to be found below the buildings around Dom Square.

From the middle of the 3rd century, Germanic tribes regularly invaded the Roman territories. Around 275 the Romans could no longer maintain the northern border and Utrecht was abandoned.[11] Little is known about the next period 270–650. Utrecht is first spoken of again several centuries after the Romans left. Under the influence of the growing realms of the Franks, during Dagobert I's reign in the 7th century, a church was built within the walls of the Roman fortress.[11] In ongoing border conflicts with the Frisians, this first church was destroyed.

Centre of Christianity in the Netherlands (650–1579)

Dom in Utrecht - panoramio
The Dom Tower seen from Downtown Utrecht. The remaining section of the Cathedral of Saint Martin is not connected to the tower since the collapse of the nave in 1674 due to a storm.

By the mid-7th century, English and Irish missionaries set out to convert the Frisians. Pope Sergius I appointed their leader, Saint Willibrordus, as bishop of the Frisians. The tenure of Willibrordus is generally considered to be the beginning of the Bishopric of Utrecht.[11] In 723, the Frankish leader Charles Martel bestowed the fortress in Utrecht and the surrounding lands as the base of the bishops. From then on Utrecht became one of the most influential seats of power for the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. The archbishops of Utrecht were based at the uneasy northern border of the Carolingian Empire. In addition, the city of Utrecht had competition from the nearby trading centre Dorestad.[11] After the fall of Dorestad around 850, Utrecht became one of the most important cities in the Netherlands.[15] The importance of Utrecht as a centre of Christianity is illustrated by the election of the Utrecht-born Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens as pope in 1522 (the last non-Italian pope before John Paul II).


When the Frankish rulers established the system of feudalism, the Bishops of Utrecht came to exercise worldly power as prince-bishops.[11] The territory of the bishopric not only included the modern province of Utrecht (Nedersticht, 'lower Sticht'), but also extended to the northeast. The feudal conflict of the Middle Ages heavily affected Utrecht. The prince-bishopric was involved in almost continuous conflicts with the Counts of Holland and the Dukes of Guelders.[16] The Veluwe region was seized by Guelders, but large areas in the modern province of Overijssel remained as the Oversticht.

Clerical buildings

Several churches and monasteries were built inside, or close to, the city of Utrecht. The most dominant of these was the Cathedral of Saint Martin, inside the old Roman fortress. The construction of the present Gothic building was begun in 1254 after an earlier romanesque construction had been badly damaged by fire. The choir and transept were finished from 1320 and were followed then by the ambitious Dom tower.[11] The last part to be constructed was the central nave, from 1420. By that time, however, the age of the great cathedrals had come to an end and declining finances prevented the ambitious project from being finished, the construction of the central nave being suspended before the planned flying buttresses could be finished.[11] Besides the cathedral there were four collegiate churches in Utrecht: St. Salvator's Church (demolished in the 16th century), on the Dom square, dating back to the early 8th century.[17] Saint John (Janskerk), originating in 1040;[18] Saint Peter, building started in 1039[19] and Saint Mary's church building started around 1090 (demolished in the early 19th century, cloister survives).[20] Besides these churches, the city housed St. Paul's Abbey,[21] the 15th-century beguinage of St. Nicholas, and a 14th-century chapter house of the Teutonic Knights.[22]

Besides these buildings which belonged to the bishopric, an additional four parish churches were constructed in the city: the Jacobikerk (dedicated to Saint James), founded in the 11th century, with the current Gothic church dating back to the 14th century;[23] the Buurkerk (Neighbourhood-church) of the 11th-century parish in the centre of the city; Nicolaichurch (dedicated to Saint Nicholas), from the 12th century[24] and the 13th-century Geertekerk (dedicated to Saint Gertrude of Nivelles).[25]

City of Utrecht

Its location on the banks of the river Rhine allowed Utrecht to become an important trade centre in the Northern Netherlands. The growing town Utrecht was granted city rights by Henry V in 1122. When the main flow of the Rhine moved south, the old bed which still flowed through the heart of the town became ever more canalized; and the wharf system was built as an inner city harbour system.[26] On the wharfs, storage facilities (werfkelders) were built, on top of which the main street, including houses, was constructed. The wharfs and the cellars are accessible from a platform at water level with stairs descending from the street level to form a unique structure.[nb 2][27] The relations between the bishop, who controlled many lands outside of the city, and the citizens of Utrecht was not always easy.[11] The bishop, for example dammed the Kromme Rijn at Wijk bij Duurstede to protect his estates from flooding. This threatened shipping for the city and led the city of Utrecht to commission a canal to ensure access to the town for shipping trade: the Vaartse Rijn, connecting Utrecht to the Hollandse IJssel at IJsselstein.

The end of independence

In 1528 the bishop lost secular power over both Neder- and Oversticht – which included the city of Utrecht – to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Charles V combined the Seventeen Provinces (the current Benelux and the northern parts of France) as a personal union. This ended the prince-bishopric of Utrecht, as the secular rule was now the lordship of Utrecht, with the religious power remaining with the bishop, although Charles V had gained the right to appoint new bishops. In 1559 the bishopric of Utrecht was raised to archbishopric to make it the religious centre of the Northern ecclesiastical province in the Seventeen Provinces.

The transition from independence to a relatively minor part of a larger union was not easily accepted. To quell uprisings, Charles V struggled to exert his power over the city's citizens who had struggled to gain a certain level of independence from the bishops and were not willing to cede this to their new lord. The heavily fortified castle Vredenburg was built to house a large garrison whose main task was to maintain control over the city. The castle would last less than 50 years before it was demolished in an uprising in the early stages of the Dutch Revolt.

Republic of the Netherlands (1579–1806)

Lambert de Hondt (II) - The Surrender of Utrecht
Lambert de Hondt (II): The Surrender of Utrecht on 30 June 1672 to the French king Louis XIV, 1672, Centraal Museum Utrecht
Het afdanken der waardgelders door prins Maurits op de Neude te Utrecht, 31 juli 1618 (Joost Cornelisz. Droochsloot, 1625)
Prince Maurits in Utrecht, 31 July 1618

In 1579 the northern seven provinces signed the Union of Utrecht, in which they decided to join forces against Spanish rule. The Union of Utrecht is seen as the beginning of the Dutch Republic. In 1580, the new and predominantly Protestant state abolished the bishoprics, including the archbishopric of Utrecht. The stadtholders disapproved of the independent course of the Utrecht bourgeoisie and brought the city under much more direct control of the republic, shifting the power towards its dominant province Holland. This was the start of a long period of stagnation of trade and development in Utrecht. Utrecht remained an atypical city in the new republic being about 40% Catholic in the mid-17th-century, and even more so among the elite groups, who included many rural nobility and gentry with town houses there.[28]

The fortified city temporarily fell to the French invasion in 1672 (the Disaster Year); where the French invasion was stopped just west of Utrecht at the Old Hollandic Waterline. In 1674, only two years after the French left, the centre of Utrecht was struck by a tornado. The halt to building before construction of flying buttresses in the 15th century now proved to be the undoing of the cathedral of St Martin church's central section which collapsed, creating the current Dom square between the tower and choir. In 1713, Utrecht hosted one of the first international peace negotiations when the Treaty of Utrecht settled the War of the Spanish Succession. Beginning in 1723, Utrecht became the centre of the non-Roman Old Catholic Churches in the world.

Modern history (1815–present)

Een uitzinnige menigte verwelkomt de Canadese bevrijders in Utrecht - An ecstatic crowd in Utrecht welcomes the Canadian liberators (4502667274)
People celebrating the liberation of Utrecht at the end of World War II on 7 May 1945
Lange Elisabethstraat Mariaplaats, 3511 Utrecht, Netherlands - panoramio
Contemporary map of Utrecht

In the early 19th century, the role of Utrecht as a fortified town had become obsolete. The fortifications of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie were moved east of Utrecht. The town walls could now be demolished to allow for expansion. The moats remained intact and formed an important feature of the Zocher plantsoen, an English style landscape park that remains largely intact today. Growth of the city increased when, in 1843, a railway connecting Utrecht to Amsterdam was opened. After that, Utrecht gradually became the main hub of the Dutch railway network. With the industrial revolution finally gathering speed in the Netherlands and the ramparts taken down, Utrecht began to grow far beyond its medieval centre. When the Dutch government allowed the bishopric of Utrecht to be reinstated by Rome in 1853, Utrecht became the centre of Dutch Catholicism once more. From the 1880s onward, neighbourhoods such as Oudwijk, Wittevrouwen, Vogelenbuurt to the East, and Lombok to the West were developed. New middle-class residential areas, such as Tuindorp and Oog in Al, were built in the 1920s and 1930s. During this period, several Jugendstil houses and office buildings were built, followed by Rietveld who built the Rietveld Schröder House (1924), and Dudok's construction of the city theater (1941).

During World War II, Utrecht was held by the Germans until the general German surrender of the Netherlands on 5 May 1945. British and Canadian troops that had surrounded the city entered it after that surrender, on 7 May 1945. Following the end of World War II, the city grew considerably when new neighbourhoods such as Overvecht, Kanaleneiland, Hoograven and Lunetten were built. Around 2000, the Leidsche Rijn housing area was developed as an extension of the city to the west.

The area surrounding Utrecht Centraal railway station and the station itself were developed following modernist ideas of the 1960s, in a brutalist style. This development led to the construction of the shopping mall Hoog Catharijne, the music centre Vredenburg (Hertzberger, 1979), and conversion of part of the ancient canal structure into a highway (Catherijnebaan). Protest against further modernisation of the city centre followed even before the last buildings were finalised. In the early 21st century, the whole area is undergoing change again. The redeveloped music centre TivoliVredenburg opened in 2014 with the original Vredenburg and Tivoli concert and rock and jazz halls brought together in a single building.



Utrecht experiences a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb) similar to all of the Netherlands.



Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
YearPop.±% p.a.
1900 102,086+1.10%
1910 119,006+1.55%
1920 138,334+1.52%
1930 153,208+1.03%
1940 165,029+0.75%
1950 193,190+1.59%
1960 254,186+2.78%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1970 279,000+0.94%
1980 236,208−1.65%
1990 230,676−0.24%
2000 233,667+0.13%
2010 307,081+2.77%
2011 312,634+1.81%
Source: Lourens & Lucassen 1997, pp. 87–88 (1400–1795)

Utrecht city had a population of 296,305 in 2007. It is a growing municipality and projections are that the population will surpass 392,000 by 2025.[31]

Utrecht has a young population, with many inhabitants in the age category from 20 and 30 years, due to the presence of a large university. About 52% of the population is female, 48% is male. The majority of households (52.5%) in Utrecht are single-person households. About 29% of people living in Utrecht are either married, or have another legal partnership. About 3% of the population of Utrecht is divorced.[31]

About 69% of the population is of Dutch ancestry. Approximately 10% of the population consists of immigrants from Western countries, while 21% of the population is of non-Western origin (9% Moroccan, 5% Turkish, 3% Surinamese and Dutch Caribbean and 5% of other countries).[31] Some of the city's boroughs have a relatively high percentage of originally non-Dutch inhabitants – i.e. Kanaleneiland (83%) and Overvecht (57%). Like Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and other large Dutch cities, Utrecht faces some socio-economic problems. About 38% percent of its population either earns a minimum income or is dependent on social welfare (17% of all households). Boroughs such as Kanaleneiland, Overvecht and Hoograven consist primarily of high-rise housing developments, and are known for relatively high poverty and crime rate.

Population of the city of Utrecht by country of birth of the parents of citizens (2017)[32]
Country/Territory Population
Netherlands Netherlands 227,077 (66.196%)
Morocco Morocco 30,324 (8.84%)
Turkey Turkey 13,826 (4.03%)
Indonesia Indonesia 8,151 (2.376%)
Suriname Suriname 7,789 (2.271%)
Other 55,871 (16.287%)


Utrecht has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century. Currently it is the see of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht, the most senior Dutch Roman Catholic leader.[33][34] His ecclesiastical province covers the whole kingdom.

Utrecht is also the see of the archbishop of the Old Catholic church, titular head of the Union of Utrecht, and the location of the offices of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, the main Dutch Protestant church.

As of 2013, the largest religion is Christianity with 28% of the population being Christian, followed by Islam with 9.5% and Hinduism with 0.8%.

Religions in Utrecht (2013)[35]

  Irreligion (61.0%)
  Roman Catholic (13.4%)
  Other Christian denominations (4.4%)
  Islam (9.5%)
  Hinduism (0.8%)
  Buddhism (0.6%)
  Judaism (0.1%)

Population centres and agglomeration

The city of Utrecht is subdivided into 10 city quarters, all of which have their own neighbourhood council and service centre for civil affairs.

  1. Binnenstad
  2. Oost
  3. Leidsche Rijn
  4. West
  5. Overvecht
  6. Zuid
  7. Noordoost
  8. Zuidwest
  9. Noordwest
  10. Vleuten-De Meern

Utrecht is the centre of a densely populated area, a fact which makes concise definitions of its agglomeration difficult, and somewhat arbitrary. The smaller Utrecht agglomeration of continuously built-up areas counts some 420,000 inhabitants and includes Nieuwegein, IJsselstein and Maarssen. It is sometimes argued that the close by municipalities De Bilt, Zeist, Houten, Vianen, Driebergen-Rijsenburg (Utrechtse Heuvelrug), and Bunnik should also be counted towards the Utrecht agglomeration, bringing the total to 640,000 inhabitants. The larger region, including slightly more remote towns such as Woerden and Amersfoort, counts up to 820,000 inhabitants.[36]


Panorama Utrecht
Utrecht Canals - July 2006
Oudegracht (the 'old canal') in central Utrecht
Utrecht Oude Gracht Hamburgerbrug (LOC)
The Oudegracht in the 1890s
Utrecht Canals Aerial View - July 2006
View on the Oudegracht from the Dom Tower
Aerial view of Utrecht from the Dom Tower

Utrecht's cityscape is dominated by the Dom Tower, the tallest belfry in the Netherlands and originally part of the Cathedral of Saint Martin.[37] An ongoing debate is over whether any building in or near the centre of town should surpass the Dom Tower in height (112 m (367 ft)). Nevertheless, some tall buildings are now being constructed that will become part of the skyline of Utrecht. The second tallest building of the city, the Rabobank-tower, was completed in 2010 and stands 105 metres (344 feet) tall.[38] Two antennas will increase that height to 120 metres (394 feet). Two other buildings were constructed around the Nieuw Galgenwaard stadium (2007). These buildings, the 'Kantoortoren Galghenwert' and 'Apollo Residence', stand 85.5 metres (280.5 feet) and 64.5 metres (211.6 feet) high respectively.

Another landmark is the old centre and the canal structure in the inner city. The Oudegracht is a curved canal, partly following the ancient main branch of the Rhine. It is lined with the unique wharf-basement structures that create a two-level street along the canals.[39] The inner city has largely retained its medieval structure,[40] and the moat ringing the old town is largely intact.[41] Because of the role of Utrecht as a fortified city, construction outside the medieval centre and its city walls was restricted until the 19th century. Surrounding the medieval core there is a ring of late 19th- and early 20th-century neighbourhoods, with newer neighbourhoods positioned farther out.[42] The eastern part of Utrecht remains fairly open. The Dutch Water Line, moved east of the city in the early 19th century, required open lines of fire, thus prohibiting all permanent constructions until the middle of the 20th century on the east side of the city.[43]

Due to the past importance of Utrecht as a religious centre, several monumental churches were erected, many of which have survived.[44] Most prominent is the Dom Church. Other notable churches include the romanesque St Peter's and St John's churches; the gothic churches of St James and St Nicholas; and the Buurkerk, now converted into a museum for automatically playing musical instruments.


Public transport

Because of its central location, Utrecht is well connected to the rest of the Netherlands and has a well-developed public transport network.

Heavy and light rail

2015-08 utrecht cs 02
Utrecht Centraal railway station

Utrecht Centraal is the main railway station of Utrecht. There are regular intercity services to all major Dutch cities; direct services to Schiphol Airport. Utrecht Centraal is a station on the night service, providing 7 days a week an all-night service to (among others) Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. International InterCityExpress (ICE) services to Germany (and further) through Arnhem call at Utrecht Centraal. Regular local trains to all areas surrounding Utrecht also depart from Utrecht Centraal; and service several smaller stations: Utrecht Lunetten; Utrecht Vaartsche Rijn; Utrecht Overvecht; Utrecht Leidsche Rijn; Utrecht Terwijde; Utrecht Zuilen and Vleuten. A former station Utrecht Maliebaan closed in 1939 and has since been converted into the Dutch Railway Museum.

The Utrecht sneltram is a light rail scheme running southwards from Utrecht Centraal to the suburbs of IJsselstein, Kanaleneiland, Lombok and Nieuwegein. The sneltram began operations in 1983 and is currently operated by the private transport company Qbuzz. In 2019 the new extension to the Uithof will start operating, creating a direct mass transit connection from the central station to the main Utrecht university campus.[45]

Utrecht is the location of the headquarters of Nederlandse Spoorwegen (English: Dutch Railways) – the largest rail operator in the Netherlands – and ProRail – the state-owned company responsible for the construction and maintenance of the country's rail infrastructure.

Bus transport

The main local and regional bus station of Utrecht is located adjacent to Utrecht Centraal railway station, at the East and West entrances. Due to large-scale renovation and construction works at the railway station, the station's bus stops are changing frequently. As a general rule, westbound buses depart from the bus station on the west entrance, other buses from the east side station. Local buses in Utrecht are operated by Qbuzz – its services include a high-frequency service to the Uithof university district. The local bus fleet is one of Europe's cleanest, using only buses compliant with the Euro-VI standard as well as electric buses for inner city transport. Regional buses from the city are operated by Arriva and Connexxion.

The Utrecht Centraal railway station is also served by the pan-European services of Eurolines. Furthermore, it acts as departure and arrival place of many coach companies serving holiday resorts in Spain and France – and during winter in Austria and Switzerland.


Like most Dutch cities, Utrecht has an extensive network of cycle paths, making cycling safe and popular. 33% of journeys within the city are by bicycle, more than any other mode of transport.[46] (Cars, for example, account for 30% of trips). Bicycles are used by young and old people, and by individuals and families. They are mostly traditional, upright, steel-framed bicycles, with few or no gears. There are also barrow bikes, for carrying shopping or small children. In 2014, the City Council decided to build the world's largest bicycle parking station, near the Central Railway Station. This 3-floor construction will cost an estimated 48 million Euro and will hold 12,500 bicycles. Completion is foreseen in 2018.[47]

Road transport

Utrecht is well-connected to the Dutch road network. Two of the most important major roads serve the city of Utrecht: the A12 and A2 motorways connect Amsterdam, Arnhem, The Hague and Maastricht, as well as Belgium and Germany. Other major motorways in the area are the AlmereBreda A27 and the Utrecht–Groningen A28.[48] Due to the increasing traffic and the ancient city plan, traffic congestion is a common phenomenon in and around Utrecht, causing elevated levels of air pollutants. This has led to a passionate debate in the city about the best way to improve the city's air quality.


Utrecht has an industrial port located on the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal.[49] The container terminal has a capacity of 80,000 containers a year. In 2003, the port facilitated the transport of four million tons of cargo; mostly sand, gravel, fertiliser and fodder.[50] Additionally, some tourist boat trips are organised from various places on the Oudegracht; and the city is connected to touristic shipping routes through sluices.[51][52][53]


Utrecht de inktpot september 2003
'De Inktpot' (The Inkpot) with fake UFO

Production industry constitutes a small part of the economy of Utrecht. The economy of Utrecht depends for a large part on the several large institutions located in the city. It is the centre of the Dutch railroad network and the location of the head office of Nederlandse Spoorwegen. ProRail is headquartered in The De Inktpot (The Inkpot) – the largest brick building in the Netherlands (the "UFO" featured on its façade stems from an art program in 2000). Rabobank, a large bank, has its headquarters in Utrecht.


Utrecht-Uithof, from CambridgeLaan 01
View on the Science Park campus of Utrecht University. The building in the centre is the library.

Utrecht hosts several large institutions of higher education. The most prominent of these is Utrecht University (est. 1636), the largest university of the Netherlands with 30,449 students (as of 2012). The university is partially based in the inner city as well as in the Uithof campus area, to the east of the city. According to Shanghai Jiaotong University's university ranking in 2014, it is the 57th best university in the world.[54] Utrecht also houses the much smaller University of Humanistic Studies, which houses about 400 students.[55]

Utrecht is home of one of the locations of TIAS School for Business and Society, focused on post-experience management education and the largest management school of its kind in the Netherlands. In 2008, its executive MBA program was rated the 24th best program in the world by the Financial Times.[56]

Utrecht is also home to two other large institutions of higher education: the vocational university Hogeschool Utrecht (37,000 students),[57] with locations in the city and the Uithof campus; and the HKU Utrecht School of the Arts (3,000 students).

There are many schools for primary and secondary education, allowing parents to select from different philosophies and religions in the school as is inherent in the Dutch school system.


Miffy Statue in Utrecht
Miffy statue at the Nijntjepleintje in Utrecht
Kariatiden Winkel van Sinkel
Caryatids at the Winkel van Sinkel

Utrecht city has an active cultural life, and in the Netherlands is second only to Amsterdam.[8] There are several theatres and theatre companies. The 1941 main city theatre was built by Dudok. In addition to theatres, there is a large number of cinemas including three arthouse cinemas. Utrecht is host to the international Early Music Festival (Festival Oude Muziek, for music before 1800) and the Netherlands Film Festival. The city has an important classical music hall Vredenburg (1979 by Herman Hertzberger). Its acoustics are considered among the best of the 20th-century original music halls. The original Vredenburg music hall has been redeveloped as part of the larger station area redevelopment plan and in 2014 gained additional halls that allowed its merger with the rock club Tivoli and the SJU jazzpodium. There are several other venues for music throughout the city. Young musicians are educated in the conservatory, a department of the Utrecht School of the Arts. There is a specialised museum of automatically playing musical instruments.

Prins Clausbrug vanuit NO bekeken
Prins Clausbrug across the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal

There are many art galleries in Utrecht. There are also several foundations to support art and artists. Training of artists is done at the Utrecht School of the Arts. The Centraal Museum has many exhibitions on the arts, including a permanent exhibition on the works of Utrecht resident illustrator Dick Bruna, who is best known for creating Miffy ("Nijntje", in Dutch). BAK, basis voor actuele kunst offers contemporary art exhibitions and public events, as well as a Fellowship program for practitioners involved in contemporary arts, theory and activisms. Although street art is illegal in Utrecht, the Utrechtse Kabouter, a picture of a gnome with a red hat, became a common sight in 2004.[58] Utrecht also houses one of the landmarks of modern architecture, the 1924 Rietveld Schröder House, which is listed on UNESCO's world heritage sites.

Every Saturday, a paviour adds another letter to The Letters of Utrecht, an endless poem in the cobblestones of the Oude Gracht in Utrecht. With the Letters, Utrecht has a social sculpture as a growing monument created for the benefit of future people.

To promote culture, Utrecht city organizes cultural Sundays. During a thematic Sunday, several organisations create a program which is open to everyone without, or with a very much reduced, admission fee. There are also initiatives for amateur artists. The city subsidises an organisation for amateur education in arts aimed at all inhabitants (Utrechts Centrum voor de Kunsten), as does the university for its staff and students. Additionally there are also several private initiatives. The city council provides coupons for discounts to inhabitants who receive welfare to be used with many of the initiatives.

In 2017 Utrecht was named as a UNESCO City of Literature.


Coachpraatje bij de Munt - WLM 2011 - ednl
Triton rowing club team pauses with their coach by the Muntbrug, a rotating bridge built in 1887.

Utrecht is home to the premier league (professional) football club FC Utrecht, which plays in Stadium Nieuw Galgenwaard. It is also the home of Kampong, the largest (amateur) sportsclub in the Netherlands (4,500 members), SV Kampong.[59] Kampong features field hockey, association football, cricket, tennis, squash and boules. Kampong's men and women top hockey squads play in the highest Dutch hockey league, the Rabohoofdklasse. Utrecht is also home to baseball and softball club UVV, which plays in the highest Dutch baseball league: de Hoofdklasse. Utrecht's waterways are used by several rowing clubs. Viking is a large club open to the general public, and the student clubs Orca and Triton compete in the Varsity each year.

In July 2013, Utrecht hosted the European Youth Olympic Festival, in which more than 2,000 young athletes competed in nine different olympic sports. In July 2015, Utrecht hosted the Grand Départ and first stage of the Tour de France.[60]


Aanzicht op de westgevel van bouwdeel 1 - Utrecht - 20234880 - RCE
Duitse Huis in April 1982

Utrecht has several smaller and larger museums. Many of those are located in the southern part of the old town, the Museumkwartier.

  • Aboriginal Art Museum,[61] located at the Oudegracht and closed since 15 June 2017, this museum had a small exhibit of Australian Aboriginal Art
  • BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, an international platform for theoretically-informed, politically-driven art and experimental research
  • Centraal Museum, located in the MuseumQuarter, this municipal museum has a large collection of art, design, and historical artifacts;
    • Dick Bruna huis,[62] art of Centraal Museum on this separate location is dedicated to Miffy creator Dick Bruna.
  • Duitse Huis has a collection of historical items including many charters with seals dating from as far back as the early 13th century and a collection of medieval coins.[63]
  • Museum Catharijneconvent, Museum of the Catholic Church shows the history of Christian culture and arts in the Netherlands;
  • Museum Speelklok National Museum in the centre of the city, displays several centuries of mechanical musical instruments;
  • Railway Museum (Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum) Railway sponsored museum on the history of the Dutch railways;
  • Utrecht Archives,[64] are located at Hamburgerstraat 28 in Utrecht;
  • Utrecht university museum[65] Utrecht University museum includes the ancient botanical garden;
  • Volksbuurtmuseum Wijk C[66]
  • Sonnenborgh Observatory[67] observatory and museum that regularly hosts lectures on astronomy, located at Zonnenburg 2 in Utrecht;
  • Betje Boerhave Museum[68] museum for the grocer's shop where you can still buy old-fashioned food and non-food items, located at Hoogt 6 in Utrecht.

Music and events

The city has several music venues such as TivoliVredenburg, Tivoli De Helling, ACU, EKKO, DBs and RASA. Utrecht hosts the yearly Utrecht Early Music Festival (Festival Oude Muziek).[69] In Jaarbeurs it hosts Trance Energy. Every summer there used to be the Summer Darkness festival, which celebrated goth culture and music.[70] In November the Le Guess Who? festival, focused on indie rock, art rock and experimental rock, takes place in many of the city's venues.


There are two main theaters in the city, the Theater Kikker[71] and the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht[72] De parade, a travelling theatre festival, performs in Utrecht in summer. The city also hosts the yearly Festival a/d Werf which offers a selection of contemporary international theatre, together with visual arts, public art and music.

Notable people from Utrecht

Geboortehuis van Paus Adriaan
Birthplace of Pope Adrian VI
See also the category People from Utrecht

Over the ages famous people have been born and/or raised in Utrecht. Among the most famous Utrechters are:

International relations

Twin towns

Utrecht is twinned with:

Other relations

See also


  1. ^ See Utrecht sodomy trials § Legacy for the history of these demonyms.
  2. ^ Almost all other canal cities in The Netherlands (such as Amsterdam and Delft) have the water in canals bordering directly to the road surface


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  • Lourens, Piet; Lucassen, Jan (1997). Inwonertallen van Nederlandse steden ca. 1300–1800. Amsterdam: NEHA. ISBN 9057420082.

External links


Amersfoort [ˈaːmərsfoːrt] (listen) is a city and municipality in the province of Utrecht, Netherlands. In August 2017, the municipality had a population of 155,089, making it the second-largest of the province and fifteenth-largest of the country. Amersfoort is also one of the largest Dutch railway junctions with its three stations—Amersfoort, Schothorst and Vathorst—due to its location on two of the Netherlands' main east to west and north to south railway lines. The city was used during the 1928 Summer Olympics as a venue for the modern pentathlon events. Amersfoort marked its 750th anniversary as a city in 2009.

Bishopric of Utrecht

The Bishopric of Utrecht (1024–1528) was a civil principality of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries, in present Netherlands, which was ruled by the bishops of Utrecht as princes of the Holy Roman Empire.

From 1024 until 1528, it was one of the prince-bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire, constituting, in addition to its ecclesiastical aspect, a civil state within the Empire. In 1528, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, secularized its civil authority and territorial possessions.

Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland

The Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland is the Swiss member church of the Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches. The Union of Utrecht was founded by some Jansenists, and expanded with an influx of discontented Roman Catholics following their disappointment with the First Vatican Council (1869-1870). The church is a national Swiss church and recognised (as are the Evangelical Reformed and the Roman Catholic churches) in 11 cantons by the government. Since 1874, the University of Bern has had its own Christian Catholic theological faculty, which is now one part (as the Christian Catholic section) of the Faculty of Theology. The strongest concentration of Christian Catholics lies in the cantons of Solothurn, Aargau, Zurich and Geneva.

In 1841 the Zürich Catholic community planned to build a church to commemorate the 1270s Augustinian abbey church. As the whole community was expelled from the Catholic church, the Augustinerkirche at the Münzplatz became its present parish church. Ferdinand Stadler (1813–1870), an architect born in Zürich, was charged with the construction of a new church building.In 2009, Bishop Harald Rein was elected as the head of the church. Prior to this, he served as a parish priest and as vicar general of the church. On September 12, 2009, he was consecrated in Zurich by Archbishop Joris Vercammen of Utrecht.

FC Utrecht

Football Club Utrecht (Dutch pronunciation: [ɛfˈseː ˈytrɛxt]) is a Dutch football club founded on 1 July 1970 and based in the city of Utrecht. The club's colours are red and white.

Gerard 't Hooft

Gerardus (Gerard) 't Hooft (Dutch: [ˈɣeːrɑrt ət ˈɦoːft]; born July 5, 1946) is a Dutch theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He shared the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics with his thesis advisor Martinus J. G. Veltman "for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions".

His work concentrates on gauge theory, black holes, quantum gravity and fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics. His contributions to physics include a proof that gauge theories are renormalizable, dimensional regularization and the holographic principle.

Michiel Hazewinkel

Michiel Hazewinkel (born 22 June 1943) is a Dutch mathematician, and Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the Centre for Mathematics and Computer and the University of Amsterdam, particularly known for his 1978 book Formal groups and applications and as editor of the Encyclopedia of Mathematics.

New Utrecht, Brooklyn

New Utrecht (Dutch: Nieuw Utrecht) was a town in western Long Island, New York, located in the present-day Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. New Utrecht was established in 1652 by Dutch settlers in the Dutch colony of New Netherland, the last of the original six towns to be founded in Kings County. New Utrecht ceased to exist in 1894 when it was annexed by the City of Brooklyn, and became part of the City of Greater New York when Brooklyn joined as a borough in 1898.

Old Catholic Church

The term Old Catholic Church was used from the 1850s by groups which had separated from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, primarily concerned with papal authority; some of these groups, especially in the Netherlands, had already existed long before the term. These churches are not in full communion with the Holy See. Member churches of the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches (UU) are in full communion with the Anglican Communion, and some are members of the World Council of Churches.The formation of the Old Catholic communion of Germans, Austrians and Swiss began in 1870 at a public meeting held in Nuremberg under the leadership of Ignaz von Döllinger, following the First Vatican Council. Four years later, episcopal succession was established with the consecration of an Old Catholic German bishop by a prelate of the Church of Utrecht. In line with the "Declaration of Utrecht" of 1889, adherents accept the first seven ecumenical councils and doctrine formulated before the East–West Schism of 1054, but reject communion with the pope and a number of other Catholic doctrines and practices. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church notes that since 1925, they have recognized Anglican ordinations, that they have had full communion with the Church of England since 1932 and have taken part in the ordination of Anglican bishops. According to the principle of Ex opere operato, ordinations out of communion with Rome are still valid, and for this reason the validity of orders of Old Catholic bishops has never been formally questioned by Rome, although not any female priests.The term "Old Catholic" was first used in 1853 to describe the members of the See of Utrecht who did not recognize any infallible papal authority. Later Catholics who disagreed with the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council (1870) were hereafter without a bishop and joined with Utrecht to form the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches (UU). Today these Old Catholic churches are found chiefly in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria and Czechia. Union of Utrecht Old Catholic churches are not generally found outside of Western Europe.

Though not possessing any relationship with the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches, numerous Independent Catholic clergy in the English-speaking world mistakenly self-identify as "Old Catholic," which likely signifies that, independent of the Roman Catholic Church, they see themselves as part of the Old Catholic tradition.

Paulus Jansen

Paulus Fredericus Cornelius Jansen (born 2 March 1954 in Roermond) is a Dutch politician and civil engineer. As a member of the Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij) he was an MP between 30 November 2006 and 14 April 2014. He officially left the House of Representatives on 13 May 2014 and was permanently replaced by Tjitske Siderius, who until then had temporary replaced Renske Leijten. He focused on matters of natural environment, climate change, spatial planning, water management, housing, energy and environmental noise. Since 8 May 2014 he has been an alderman in the city of Utrecht.From 1995 to 2003 he was a member as well as SP fraction leader of the States-Provincial of the province of Utrecht. From 2001 to 2006 he was a member as well as SP fraction leader of the municipal council of the city of Utrecht.

Jansen studied architectural engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Peace of Utrecht

The Peace of Utrecht is a series of peace treaties signed by the belligerents in the War of the Spanish Succession, in the Dutch city of Utrecht between April 1713 and February 1715.

Before Charles II of Spain died childless in 1700, he had named his grandnephew Philip of France as his successor. However, Philip was a French prince, grandson of Louis XIV of France and also in line for the French throne, and the other major powers in Europe were not willing to tolerate the potential union of two such powerful states. Essentially, the treaties allowed Philip to take the Spanish throne in return for permanently renouncing his claim to the French throne, along with other necessary guarantees that would ensure that France and Spain should not merge, thus preserving the balance of power in Europe.

The treaties between several European states, including Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch Republic, helped end the war. The treaties were concluded between the representatives of Louis XIV of France and of his grandson Philip on one hand, and representatives of Anne of Great Britain, Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia, John V of Portugal and the United Provinces of the Netherlands on the other. Though the king of France ensured the Spanish crown for his dynasty, the treaties marked the end of French ambitions of hegemony in Europe expressed in the continuous wars of Louis XIV, and paved the way to the European system based on the balance of power. British historian G. M. Trevelyan argues:

That Treaty, which ushered in the stable and characteristic period of Eighteenth-Century civilization, marked the end of danger to Europe from the old French monarchy, and it marked a change of no less significance to the world at large, — the maritime, commercial and financial supremacy of Great Britain.

Another enduring result was the creation of the Spanish Bourbon Dynasty, still reigning over Spain up to the present while the original House of Bourbon has long since been dethroned in France.

Pope Adrian VI

Pope Adrian VI (Latin: Hadrianus VI), born Adriaan Florensz Boeyens (2 March 1459 – 14 September 1523), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 9 January 1522 until his death on 14 September 1523. The only Dutchman so far to become pope, he was the last non-Italian pope until John Paul II, 455 years later.

Born in the Episcopal principality of Utrecht, Adrian studied at the University of Leuven in the Low Countries, where he rose to the position of professor of theology, also serving as rector (the equivalent of vice-chancellor). In 1507, he became the tutor of the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who later trusted him as both his emissary and his regent.

In 1516, Adrian was appointed by Charles, now King of Castile and Aragon, bishop of Tortosa, Spain, and soon thereafter Grand Inquisitor of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. He was created cardinal by Pope Leo X in 1517 and elected pope in 1522 as a compromise candidate after Leo's death.

Adrian came to the papacy in the midst of one of its greatest crises, threatened not only by Lutheranism to the north but also by the advance of the Ottoman Turks to the east. He refused to compromise with Lutheranism theologically, demanding Luther's condemnation as a heretic. However, he is noted for having attempted to reform the Catholic Church administratively in response to the Protestant Reformation. His efforts at reform, however, proved fruitless, as they were resisted by most of his Renaissance ecclesiastical contemporaries, and he did not live long enough to see his efforts through to their conclusion. He was succeeded by the second Medici pope, Clement VII.

Adrian VI and his eventual successor Marcellus II are the only popes of the modern era to retain their baptismal names after their election.


Rabobank (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈraːboːbɑŋk]; full name: Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A.) is a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in Utrecht, Netherlands. It is a global leader in food and agriculture financing and sustainability-oriented banking. The group comprises 129 independent local Dutch Rabobanks (2013), a central organisation (Rabobank Nederland), and a large number of specialised international offices and subsidiaries. Food and agribusiness constitute the primary international focus of the Rabobank Group. Rabobank is the second-largest bank in the Netherlands in terms of total assets.A 2013 scandal resulted in a $1 billion fine for unscrupulous trading practices, which included the manipulation of LIBOR currency rates worldwide. Chief Executive Piet Moerland resigned immediately as a result.In terms of Tier 1 capital, the organisation is among the 30 largest financial institutions in the world. As of December 2014, total assets amount to €681 billion with a net profit of €1.8 billion. Global Finance ranks Rabobank 25th in its survey of "the world's safest banks".

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Utrecht

The Archdiocese of Utrecht (Latin: Archidioecesis Ultraiectensis) is an archdiocese of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands. The Archbishop of Utrecht is the Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical province of Utrecht. There are six suffragan dioceses in the province: Breda, Groningen-Leeuwarden, Haarlem-Amsterdam, Roermond, Rotterdam, and 's-Hertogenbosch. The cathedral church of the archdiocese is Saint Catherine Cathedral which replaced the prior cathedral, Saint Martin Cathedral, after it was taken by Protestants in the Reformation.

Stadion Galgenwaard

Stadion Galgenwaard (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌstaːdijɔn ˈɣɑlɣə(n)ʋaːrt]) is a football stadium in Utrecht that has been the home of the football club FC Utrecht since 1970. The stadium, which underwent a renovation starting at the beginning of the 21st century, has a capacity of 23,750 spectators.

The stadium reopened in 1982 after an extensive facelift. At the time it was one of the most modern stadiums in the world, especially due to the moat around the pitch. After twenty years FC Utrecht felt the need for expansion and renewal. The main stand was moved to the North side and opened for the start of the 2001–2002 season.

The old main stand was rebuilt after that and a year later FC Utrecht had two new stands along the sides of the pitch. Last season, the goal stands were replaced, and the stadium now has 24,426 seats.

Seven international matches of the Dutch national football team were played in the stadium, the first one being on April 27, 1983: a friendly against Sweden (0–3). The last one, played on September 3, 2004, was also a friendly: a 3–0 win against Liechtenstein.

The stadium was also the host of 2 World Cup finals. In 1998, the Dutch hockey team became world champions, beating Spain in the final 3–2. In 2005, the final of the Football World Youth Championship was played in the Galgenwaard. Argentina won, beating Nigeria 2–1.

During the UEFA Women's Euro 2017, the stadium hosted 4 group stage matches.

Sébastien Haller

Sébastien Haller (born 22 June 1994) is a French professional footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club West Ham United.

Utrecht (province)

Utrecht (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈytrɛxt] (listen)) is a province of the Netherlands. It is located in the centre of the country, bordering the Eemmeer in the north-east, the province of Gelderland in the east and south-east, the province of South Holland in the west and south-west and the province of North Holland in the north-west and north. With an area of approximately 1,400 square kilometres (540 sq mi), it is the smallest of the twelve Dutch provinces. Apart from its eponymous capital, major cities in the province are Amersfoort, Houten, Nieuwegein, Veenendaal, IJsselstein and Zeist.

In the International Organization for Standardization world region code system Utrecht makes up one region with code ISO 3166-2:NL-UT.

Utrecht Caravaggism

Utrecht Caravaggism (Dutch: Utrechtse caravaggisten) refers to those Baroque artists, all distinctly influenced by the art of Caravaggio, who were active mostly in the Dutch city of Utrecht during the first part of the seventeenth century.[1]Painters such as Dirck van Baburen, Gerrit van Honthorst, Hendrick ter Brugghen, Jan van Bijlert and Matthias Stom were all in Rome in the 1610s, a time when the tenebroso of Caravaggio's later style was very influential. Adam Elsheimer, also in Rome at the same time, was probably also an influence on them. Back in Utrecht, they painted mythological and religious history subjects and genre scenes, such as the card-players and gypsies that Caravaggio himself had abandoned in his later career. Utrecht was the most Catholic city in the United Provinces, still about 40% Catholic in the mid-17th century, and even more among the elite groups, who included many rural nobility and gentry with town houses there. It had previously been the main centre, after Haarlem, of Northern Mannerist painting in the Netherlands. Abraham Bloemaert, who had been a leading figure in this movement, and taught the Honthursts and many other artists, also was receptive to the influence of his pupils, and changed his style many times before his death in 1651.

The brief flourishing of Utrecht Caravaggism ended around 1630. At that time, major artists had either died, as in the case of Baburen and ter Brugghen, or had changed style, like Honthorst's shift to portraiture and history scenes informed by the Flemish tendencies popularized by Peter Paul Rubens and his followers. They left a legacy, however, through their influence on Rembrandt's use of chiaroscuro and Gerrit Dou's "niche paintings" (a genre popularized by Honthorst).

Along with other Caravaggisti active in Italy and Woerden, they set the stage for later artists who worked in a Caravaggesque-inspired manner such as Georges de La Tour in Lorraine and Jan Janssens in Ghent.

Utrecht University

Utrecht University (UU; Dutch: Universiteit Utrecht, formerly Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht) is a university in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Established 26 March 1636, it is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands. In 2016, it had an enrolment of 29,425 students, and employed 5,568 faculty and staff. In 2011, 485 PhD degrees were awarded and 7,773 scientific articles were published. The 2013 budget of the university was €765 million.The university is rated as the best university in the Netherlands by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities 2013, and ranked as the 13th best university in Europe and the 52nd best university of the world.

The university's motto is "Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos," which means "Sun of Justice, shine upon us." This motto was gleaned from a literal Latin Bible translation of Malachi 4:2. (Rutgers University, having a historical connection with Utrecht University, uses a modified version of this motto.) Utrecht University is led by the University Board, consisting of prof. dr. Henk Kummeling (Rector Magnificus) and Hans Amman.


"Panne" redirects here. For the wetland feature, see Salt pannes and pools.

Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive soft feel. By extension, the word velvety means "smooth like velvet." Velvet can be made from either synthetic or natural fibers.

Climate data for De Bilt
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.1
Average high °C (°F) 5.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.1
Average low °C (°F) 0.3
Record low °C (°F) −24.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 12 10 11 9 10 10 10 10 11 12 13 12 131
Average snowy days 6 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 25
Average relative humidity (%) 87 84 81 75 75 76 77 79 84 86 89 89 82
Mean monthly sunshine hours 62.3 85.7 121.6 173.6 207.2 193.9 206.0 187.7 138.3 112.9 63.0 49.3 1,601.6
Source #1: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1981–2010 normals, snowy days normals for 1971–2000)[29]
Source #2: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1901–present extremes)[30]
Populated places in the municipality of Utrecht
Municipalities of Utrecht


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