The province of Utrecht may be small in size, but its population is the largest in the country. Named after its capital city, Utrecht is located in the eastern part of the Randstad conurbation. The city of Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and was first established by the Romans in 47AD. This ancient city features a number of buildings from the Middle Ages and is known as the religious center of the Netherlands.
Utrecht’s Rich History
There is evidence that Utrecht’s history dates back to the Stone Age at approximately 2200 BCE. However, the founding date of the city officially sits somewhere around 50 AD and was established by the Roman Legions. Utrecht would go on to become one of the most influential seats for the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. Once Frankish rulers established the feudalism system, the Bishops of Utrecht began exercising their power over the region and were known simply as prince-bishops. This move, of course, led to conflict with the Dukes of Guelders and the Counts of Holland.
In 1527, the powers of the bishop were transferred over to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor who already had control over the other provinces in the Netherlands. Charles had a difficult time ruling over the people in Utrecht as they had already gained some independence from the bishop. In 1579, the seven northernmost provinces signed the Union of Utrecht in an attempt to fight back against Spanish rule. This critical moment is now seen as the beginning of the Dutch Republic.
The Utrecht province has seen a great deal of turmoil and conflict throughout history. The province remained in control of the Germans during WWII until the last day of the war.
Today, the province of Utrecht is home to a number of nature preserves, castles and bustling cities. With the region having such a rich and long history, there are many old cities and ancient buildings to explore. The city of Utrecht features a historic center with an old cathedral tower that dates back to the Middle Ages. The Centraal Museum is a must-see and there are plenty of quaint restaurants and cafes that add to the charm of the city. Utrecht is a city that is best explored by train as Central Station is located right in the center of town.
In addition to the capital city, travelers can explore the small towns of Wijk bij Duurstede or Loenen. A number of old castles can also be found in the province of Utrecht, including Kasteel Loenersloot and Kasteel de Haar.
Cities in Utrecht:
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