On the road with Oud-Utrecht: Faces of Utrecht

The historical association Oud-Utrecht makes walks through the city for DUIC, in search of special heritage. This year we celebrate 900 years of Utrecht City Rights. During the Night of Utrecht History on Saturday 8 October, eight heritage sites opened their doors to a comprehensive program to show different faces of Utrecht, people, buildings and stories from 900 years of the city. Here is a tour of the locations.

DOMunder, Dom Church and Academy building

Domplein actually only had this name for a very short time. The square was created after the demolition of the Salvator or Oud-Munsterkerk, founded by Willibrord, in 1587 and the removal of the remains of the nave of the Cathedral, which collapsed in 1674, in 1826. This is where Utrecht arose. This is the site of the Roman castellum Traiectum, built ± 47 AD. was built on a sand ridge. At DOMunder you can take an underground look into 2000 years of history. Among other things, you will find Roman finds from the excavations at Domplein.

It was not until many centuries after the Romans that this became the site of the Gothic Domtårn and the Cathedral. The court tower from 1321 is owned by the municipality, which since 2019 has been at the head of the construction team for the major restoration. The tower can then last for decades. That . Domkerk, whose first stone was laid in 1254. Since 1581, the church has belonged to the Protestant municipality of Utrecht, which opens this monumental building as a church, museum and venue for meetings and concerts.

In the corner of Domplein is the Academy building at Utrecht University. This building was a gift from the citizens to the university on the occasion of its 250th anniversary in 1886, although construction only started in 1891. The history can be read from the many portraits that adorn the facade – but certainly also the Senate Hall. The University’s Aula dates from 1462 and was formerly the Cathedral’s chapter house. Bishops were elected. This was also the place where the Union of Utrecht was concluded in 1579. The union laid the foundation for the present-day Netherlands. Utrecht University was founded here in 1636. The Academy building is today used for academic ceremonies such as graduation ceremonies, promotions and commencement lectures and is home to debates, lectures and conferences.
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Academy building

The Town Hall, Post Utrecht and Lofen Palace
Since 2014, we have a large, modern city office at Utrecht Central Station for municipal services. For a long time the city council had its seat in the town hall at Stadhuisbrug near Oudegracht. It is still the place where the city council meets and where meetings and exhibitions are held. The classic facade with columns dates from the 19th centurye century. Behind it, medieval houses have been transformed into an administrative center. The central hall is where the city’s banner with the patron saint Saint Martin stands.
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town hall

Between 1665 and 1669 Neude was built as a market place with 3000 wagons of sand. Where the mint used to be is the monumental former main post office in Utrecht. It is a special building with influences from the Amsterdam school, designed by Joseph Crouwel in 1918. The hall with statues from different parts of the world is very beautiful. The post office was built between 1920 and 1924. However, it closed its doors in 2011. The conversion to Post Utrecht with four shops and the Utrecht library makes the building accessible to everyone again since 2020.

Utrecht library at Neude

On to Vismarkt, where we find the entrance to Lofen Palace. On 2 June 1122, Emperor Henry V granted the Utrecht residents city rights in his palace, which is popularly called ‘Lofen’. The name Lofen comes from the German word Laube it means balcony. From that balcony the emperor addressed the people. A fire destroyed Lofen Palace in 1253, but the remains can still be found in the cellars under the buildings between Domplein and Vismarkt.
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Night of Utrecht history city tour Lofen Palace

Utrecht Archives and Museum Catharijneconvent
At the corner of Lange Nieuwstraat and Hamburgerstraat you will find around 1000 years of history. This is where Paulus Abbey used to be. Later this became the seat of justice, with the provincial court and the tribunal. Now you will find the Utrecht Archive here with the permanent exhibition Utrecht Begins Hier and changing exhibitions such as Gekomen om te Blijven, about 900 years with Utrechters, and ‘Water! Friend or Foe?’. Below you will find Paulusabdij’s wine cellar.

A little further, in the Lange Nieuwstraat, we find the Museum Catharijneconvent next to the Catharina Cathedral. The Catharijne monastery was a monastery of Johannites that specialized in the care of the sick. This resulted in the first academic hospital, the forerunner of UMC Utrecht. Museum Catharijneconvent has been here since 1979, a national museum of religious art and cultural heritage. Current exhibitions are about the Utrecht Pope Adrian from 500 years ago and about the gospel music style.

City tours
The guides from Gilde Utrecht take groups through the city and tell different stories. The locations are often also accessible without a city tour. Come along, join in and celebrate 900 years of Utrecht’s history!
Photos: Paulus van Dorsten, Dick de Jong

Write to Dick de Jong

Tips for further reading at Oud-Utrecht

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