A walk around Utrecht, Netherlands
A chilly stroll around this attractive university town
(Photos/words © urban75, March 2009)
Located in the north-eastern end of the Randstad, Utrecht is the capital of the Dutch province of Utrecht and the fourth largest city of the Netherlands, with a population of 300,000.
The religious centre of the Netherlands since the eighth century, Utrecht is a stunningly pretty town, offering some beautiful architecture, striking churches and a delightful canal curving through the city.
The Netherlands is cycling mad, and we passed several groups of cyclists during our trip from Helmond to Utrecht.
'OK' advertising sign against a darkening sky.
Canal scene, Utrecht
More bikes. As a keen cyclist living in an age where car culture dominates, I loved the city's strong focus on cycling.
Cutting through the centre of the old town centre, the Oudegracht canal was originally an arm of the River Rhine.
The canal runs below the road level, creating twin-level thoroughfares, with warehouses and wharves built underneath the street.
Looking along the canal, showing the tall buildings flanking the water.
It wasn't particularly warm - in fact it was chuffing freezing! - but we still managed to fit in a picnic by the canal.
Art around the canal.
Interesting stone sculptures by the canal.
Frog eating sculpture!
Classic Dutch architecture, with stepped and curved gables.
Saucy old postcards. Phwooar!
Located at the OudeGracht is the famous rock club Tivoli (the club also has a second location just outside the centre).
Looking along the deserted canal.
Cyclists crossing over the canal.
The attractive 18th century Magazijn de Vlijt building at Lijnmarkt 48 overlooks the canal.
Old and new canal side buildings
Andersom Coffee Shop at Vismarkt 23 for all your cannabis needs!
Walking towards the Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, standing 112.5 metres (368 feet) high.
The Gothic-style tower is the symbol of the city and formed part of the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht (Dom Church) which was built between 1321 and 1382.
The tower marks the spot where the city of Utrecht originated almost 2,000 years ago.
Financial problems meant that the cathedral was never fully completed, and after the unfinished nave collapsed in 1672 the Dom tower has remained a free standing tower.
Here you can see the space between the two buildings.
Looking up at the Dom Tower. Inside lurks a mighty peal of fourteen ringing bells, weighing 32,000 kg.
The Dom tower was not only a belfry - inside there's a private chapel of the bishop of Utrecht on the first floor and it has also served as the watchtower with the tower guard housed on the second floor of the lower square block.
Man buys snack. Dog looks on, no doubt dribbling profusely.
Attractive building next to the church.
Dom Church detail.
Tiled sign on nearby building.
Looking back at the Dom Tower.
This sign says that the building dates from 1597. Least, I think it does.
Created by local boy Dick Bruna in 1955, the Miffy children’s character is now on permanent display in the Dick Bruna house, opposite the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.
Well worth a visit is the Rietveld Schröder House, a short ride out from the centre.
Awarded UNESCO list of World Heritage Site status in 2 December 2000, the modernist house was built in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children.
One of the best known examples of De Stijl-architecture, the house represents a radical break with all architecture before it, with dynamic, changeable open zones inside, utilising a system of sliding and revolving panels.
We took a guided tour inside, but seeing as we were banned from taking photos, I cant show you anything!
Nearby house by the same architect.
Passing FC Utrecht football ground. Notice the stacks of bicycles outside - the concept of cycling to a big match in the UK is almost unheard of!
We stopped off for some coffee and cakes before heading home - and they were very nice indeed.
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