Netherlands fourth largest city and the capital of the province of the same name, lies on the geographical divide between the country's fenlands and sandy heathlands. 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.
TOP 8 PLACES TO VISIT
1.ST MARTINâ€™S CATHEDRAL
One of the most important churches in the Netherlands, it lies in the heart of Cathedral Square. Begun in 1254 on the site of an earlier Romanesque church, the cathedral today consists of the 14th century choir, the 15th century transepts, and two chapels. Highlights include old tombs and a crypt known to contain the internal organs of Emperors Conrad II and Henry IV, who died in Utrecht, the picturesque 14th century cloister linking the cathedral with the university with its windows with scenes from the life of St. Martin, the patron saint, and in the center of the beautiful Cloister Garden is a fountain with a bronze figure of a monk.
Opened in 1978, the former hospice of the Order of St. John, the museum deals with the history of Christianity in the Netherlands. It is home to the country's largest collection of medieval art treasures, with sections devoted to church interiors, religious beliefs, and medieval monasteries. Also on exhibit is a large collection of 17th and 18th century material such as valuable books and manuscripts, and a model of the original St. Martin's Cathedral with explanations of its history. Also on display is a embroidered Flemish church vestments of the late Middle Ages.
This unusual museum is dedicated to music boxes and barrel organs. On exhibit is mechanical musical instruments from the 18th century to the present day, as well as domestic instruments such as tiny music boxes to massive fair organs, most of which can still be played. Highlights include examples of musical clocks, pianolas, a turret clock with a carillon and the opportunity to peek behind the scenes at the restoration work performed in the workshops.
4.THE RAILWAY MUSEUM
A must see for train buffs, the museum deal with the early years of the railways and is located in the old Maliebaanstation. Highlights include a well-stocked attraction with a cross section of the country's transit history, particularly railroads and tram systems, with plenty of models and old vehicles. Also on display is a impressive collection of locomotives and rolling stock, kids will love the model railway and playground.
Consecrated in 1048 the church was the first church to be built in Utrecht. It is notable for its two Romanesque towers, the church also features a crypt with a sarcophagus of the founder, Bishop Bernold. Highlights is the capitals of the columns in the nave, the wall paintings in the north aisle, and the 12th century reliefs created in the Maasland style.
6.THE DOMTOREN: THE CATHEDRAL TOWER
During the devastating storm of 1674 the massive tower was separated from the Cathedral of St. Martin. Built between 1320 and 1382, it stands 112 meters high and houses an impressive carillon of 50 bells, many of them centuries old. As the tallest church tower in the Netherlands with its viewing galleries that offer magnificent panoramic vistas of the old city and the Domplein. The two chapels can be visited within the tower: St. Michael's, the Bishop's domestic chapel, and the Egmond Chapel, home to an exhibition on the history of this spectacular structure.
7.CASTLE DE HAAR
The historic building is the biggest and most luxurious castle in The Netherlands. You can learn more about the glory days of the castle and you can see the breathtaking splendour that surrounded the international rich and famous in the early 20th century. You will be amazed at the very un-Dutch luxury in which the Van Zuylen family and their guests lived amidst a wealth of history and art.
Located between the remnants of a former convent and the city's old Artillery Stables, the municipal collections are well worth a visit. The exhibits include the provincial archaeological collections and works by Utrecht-based painters from the 15th century onwards, including the Romanists, a group influenced by the Italian Renaissance and led by Jan van Scorel. Other schools represented are the Mannerists, represented by Abraham Bloemaert, who had an enduring influence on the Utrecht Caravaggisti. Also on display is a collection of 18th century costumes to the present day, along with rooms furnished in period style, sculptures, silver, and a collection of material on the history of the city. A rare 17th century dollhouse with rooms decorated in chintz from the Dutch East Indies is also a must to see.
OTHER PLACES TO SEE
The Kaiserâ€™s House in Doorn
Rietveld Schroder House
University Museum Utrecht
Museum Voor Het Kruideniersbedrijf
Dutch Museum of Working-Class
Dom Tower of Utrecht
Utrecht University Botanic Gardens
To get around in Utrectht - by various forms of public transport - including buses, trams and trains as well as foot, bicycle and taxi.Best Time To Visit Utrecht.
Watch the daffodils and tulips bloom during spring time in the months of April and May, which is an ideal time to visit Utrecht. The winters can also be a good time to visit as the city comes alive with its indoor attractions and inland waterways.