Utrecht is situated in the heart of Holland. Founded over 1,200 years ago, Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in Holland, a fact which is clearly reflected in the city’s structure and architecture. Although Utrecht is the fourth biggest city in the Netherlands with almost 300,000 inhabitants, it has managed to preserve its local character. The compact historical city centre with its many canals, characteristic waterside restaurants and numerous parks give Utrecht an almost village-like feel. The most striking landmark in Utrecht is the Dom Tower, a church tower that stands 112.32 metres tall, situated on a big square once used by the Romans for a fortress called Traiectum. This fortress, literally named ‘ford’ or river crossing in Latin, was once the foundation for what is now the city of Utrecht. On Dom Square, contours drawn on the pavement indicating the position of the former Roman fortress are still visible today.
Utrecht is home to the biggest university in the Netherlands, with facilities situated both in the city centre and on a special campus on the east side of town. Many international congresses are organised here, as the university has a fully equipped auditorium and congress centre on site as well as a campus to accommodate visitors. Utrecht offers many special and inspiring locations for hosting congresses, such as the Media Plaza which primarily targets the IT sector, the Railway Museum which has its own congress centre, the Rietveld Schröder House and many other historic locations. Because the city lies at the infrastructural intersection of the country, many big companies have chosen Utrecht as the base of their operations. Companies such as the NS Dutch Railway, Daimler-Chrysler and Compaq/HP are all based in Utrecht.
Despite its centuries of tradition, Utrecht is a young and dynamic city. This is largely due to the more than 64,000 students who live in the city and attend its university and colleges. The people of Utrecht are closely involved in the vibrant life of their city; local government encourages young and creative minds to contribute to its development and lets their voices be heard. Utrecht recently became the first city in the Netherlands to elect its mayor directly by referendum, replacing the traditional system in which local authorities appoint a candidate of their choice on behalf of the people.
Heart of Holland
Utrecht offers a unique blend of big-citylife with a small-town feel. It’s beautiful surroundings, historical features and exciting inner city, but first and foremost its welcoming inhabitants who share an attitude that breathes tolerance and hospitality, will surely get you in touch with the heart of Holland.