Province of Utrecht, The Netherlands
Utrecht is a small, densely populated (875 people on 1 sq.km.) central mainland province.
The province takes its name from its capital – Utrecht, an old city established by the Roman Legions in the year 47 AD. In 695 AD, the bishop established himself in Utrecht exerting for centuries its power over the whole area. In 1527, the bishop sold the city to the German Emperor Charles V who already owned the rest of the Netherlands. Through the way of succession, Dutch provinces went to the King of Spain, but not for long, because they revolted and only after the 80 years of war for independence, became the Republic.
From the Middle ages the rich province of Utrecht, has been an object of attacks by its neighbours Counts of Holland, by the Dukes of Burgundy, by the catholic Spain, by the French. Germans during the WWII kept the province of Utrecht until the last day of the war – May 5, 1945.
Today is its one of the provinces in the very heart of the Netherlands with many preserved nature areas, but also many busy cities, small beautiful villages, castles, big and elegant residences. In the 20th century, the province went through intensive economical growth.
Utrecht is a big city, important for industry, commerce, communication, science. It has an interesting old center with the famous in Middle ages old cathedral tower (Domtoren -112m high) dominating the city, a good museum (Centraal Museum), nice café’s and restaurants.
Utrecht is a capital of Dutch design. A house designed by the famous modern architect Gerrit Ritveld (1888-1964) for Mrs. Schröder, became after the owner’s death in 1985 a museum (now called: Rietveld-Schröder-huis). It features many artefacts from the beginnings of modern design in the Netherlands.
Visiting Utrecht try to travel by train. A car will be a nuisance it the center of this old city. Big Central Station is located just there. Your only fear might be not to get lost in its complicated, constantly rebuild building which is at the same time in some of its wings a commercial center, exhibition space an a concert hall.
Nearby small towns of Loenen (to the North of Utrecht), Wijk bij Duurstede and Amerongen (to the East of Utrecht) are worthy a visit.
The province of Utrecht has several old castles with Kasteel Loenersloot in Loenen, Slot Zuylen in Zuylen, and the neo-gothic Kasteel De Haar in Haarzuilens, as the most known.
The city of Amersfoort is an attraction on its own. With its well-preserved old center, relaxed atmosphere, provincial small shops and markets Amersfoort is perfect for a half-day trip, just to feel the provincial life in the Netherlands.