Small and cozy town Utrecht in the Netherlands with its medieval historic center, quiet life and many attractions attracts tourists with its patriarchy and steadiness. But not in the university area. Life is boiling there, the air rings with students’ voices, because Utrecht is home to the largest university in the country. The fact that since the 13th century it was used to exile disgraced noblemen also adds zest to the city. There are few cars on the streets and a lot of bicycles.
Top 5 attractions in Utrecht
People lived here as early as the 1st century, as evidenced by archaeological finds. Fragments of the stone walls by the Dome Square remain from Roman times. Gradually Utrecht became an important religious and cultural center of North Holland, the 16th century marked the signing of the Union of the Dutch provinces, which was the starting point in the emergence of statehood.
These events have left a marked mark on the city. The sights of Utrecht preserve the history of the Netherlands, telling the careful traveler a lot of interesting stories about the events and famous people who visited the city.
St. Martin is revered by the townspeople. The first church named after him was built back in the 6th century. Unfortunately, no blueprints or the exact location of the building have survived. It is known that it was built of wood and destroyed during the wars. They tried to rebuild the building again, but again not for long, until in the 12th century they laid the foundation of the cathedral, which has survived to this day. They approached the matter with grandeur, designing a majestic Gothic structure that reaches 112 meters at its highest point.
The construction of the bell tower took 60 years, on its tiers placed 50 bells, their total weight of 32 tons. They are so expertly matched in their voices that they allow for carillon concerts, which tourists and locals come to see. At the top of the tower there is an observation deck from where you can see a magnificent panorama of the city, and on clear days you can clearly see the roof of the Amsterdam-Arena.
To get to the tower can only be part of the tour group.
Museum of jukeboxes
These amazing mechanisms are known from the fairy tale “Small town in a snuffbox” and from Papa Carlo’s organ-grinder, but before the invention of modern technical means many variants for playing music had been developed.
In addition to sharmans of various shapes and kinds, the collection includes:
- music clock;
- mobile bodies;
- punch card sets.
Most of the exhibits are in working condition, in the course of the tour is a mini – concert, museum staff demonstrate particularly interesting exhibits, telling about their construction and time of invention.
The unique two-tiered structure of the canals increased the defensive capacity of the city, allowing them to be used as a way to deliver goods directly to the warehouses located in the first tier of houses. The waterways are now used for fun and romantic strolls. Along the largest canal, the Audegracht, there are old houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the basement instead of warehouses work small cafes, souvenir stores.
Walking around the city
To feel the special atmosphere, it is worth a walk through the streets of Utrecht and take the word of the inhabitants, who assure you that it is definitely worth seeing:
- one of the oldest universities in the country;
- Sonnenborg Observatory;
- coin museum;
- Papal House;
- railway museum;
- Janskerkhof flower market;
- Hoog Catharijne shopping center;
- Wilhelmina Park.
The main attractions are within the historic center, it is better to go on foot, as on many streets of the car is prohibited.
When is the best time to come to Utrecht?
Moderate climate does not allow large fluctuations in temperature, in summer it does not exceed 20 – 24 ° C, in winter it rarely drops to +5. It rains most in the fall and winter, but they do not interfere with the enjoyment of seeing the old buildings and examples of modern architecture.
To catch the most interesting events, you need to plan a trip for summer or early fall. In August and September there is an annual international festival of early music, where the works of great composers from the Middle Ages to the Baroque are played. A little later there is a film festival. On weekends there are organ concerts in churches and the Dome Cathedral, and you can often hear jazz rhythms in the streets and summer cafes.
Those who dream of seeing a winter fairy tale will have to wait until November or December. Preparations for Christmas begin, house fronts are decorated with colorful lights, and a traditional bazaar opens with toys, Christmas decorations, souvenirs, carnival costumes, treats, and traditional cinnamon and vanilla baked goods.