Thumb utrecht gemeente wapen.svg Utrecht

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Jan van Zanen

Brief history

Utrecht is a city and municipality in the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the province of Utrecht. The city was founded in 48 AD by the Romans which makes it one of oldest in the Netherlands - almost 2000 years old. Utrecht's ancient city centre features many buildings and structures several dating as far back as the High Middle Ages. For centuries, Utrecht was the largest and only city of importance in the northern part of the Netherlands. 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 the home of the largest university in the Netherlands, which was founded in 1636. In the city are located as well as several other institutions of higher education. Utrecht's student population of 40 000 is the largest in the country, making the city a very vibrant place.

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. The city is developing from a medium-sized provincial city into a regional capital of European importance. Utrecht is the fastest growing city and the healthiest city of The Netherlands. On top of that, Utrecht is one of the happiest cities in the world according to the United Nations.

With a total area of almost 100km2, Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands. The population of the city is 345 080, 40 000 of which are students in the age category from 20 and 30 years, due to the presence of the largest university in the country.

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 largest brick building in the Netherlands. Rabobank, a large bank, has its headquarters in Utrecht.

Tourism makes a significant contribution to the economy, and the picturesque Old Town with its numerous historical buildings surrounded and intersected by canals attracts large numbers of visitors.


Utrecht is easily among the most charming cities in Europe and features many attractions that are related to its long history and contemporary cultural landscape. The ultimate symbol of the city of Utrecht is its 112-meter-high Dom Tower. Visitors can climb the 465 steps and enjoy the magnificent view. Utrecht has several smaller and larger museums. Many of which are unique – like the Europe’s only aboriginal museum or the most delightful kid’s museum – Miffy museum or museum Speelklok with its spectacular collection musical clocks and organs.

According to the Berlin-based travel search engine, GoEuro, Utrecht is the most beautiful canal city in Europe after overcoming cities like Venice, Amsterdam, Saint Petersburg, Annecy, Hamburg or Bruges. Besides this is the only inner-city canal in the world o have wharves.

Utrecht is named the best shopping destination in the Netherlands which also attracts plenty of tourists.