If you were hoping to learn some facts about the city of Utrecht, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’ve already visited Utrecht city, or are thinking of travelling to this beautiful Dutch city, learning things is always fun. And, it will help your sightseeing in Utrecht be even better than without these facts about Utrecht.
Whether you’re looking for the answer on the Utrecht city population or simply want to nerd out with all these random facts about Utrecht, this is everything you were looking for.
Get to know the amazing facts about Utrecht city, The Netherlands
1. The porn cinema of Utrecht
The city of Utrecht had a porn cinema at Vredenburg 29. It was started at this location (which was a cinema, before it became a porn cinema, since 1913) in the 1960s and was closed in 1991. It had 373 seats, and the cinema was eventually closed due to the decline of visitors.
2. Twice a week there’s a beer delivery boat in the city of Utrecht
Beer is an essential part of the society in Utrecht, and everywhere in The Netherlands. The town of Utrecht has quite a few canals, with restaurants and bars located at the waterline. The best way to deliver beer, sodas and more drinks, is by boat through the canals of the Oudegracht in Utrecht.
3. The train station of Utrecht Centraal is the biggest in The Netherlands
Every working day, Utrecht Centraal has around 216.000 people who get in and out at this train station.
4. Utrecht city has a flag
The history of the flag of Utrecht goes back to centuries ago when the city had civic militias. These militias that defended the city and were part of a guild had two departments, and both of them had a triangle pennon, one was red and the other white. These two were then combined, which made it into a square shape.
On the 27th of April 1948, the municipality of Utrecht officially stated that the flag of Utrecht is red and white, but in the shape and size of today’s flags (2:3). And in white you see the patron of the city: Saint Martin, who cuts his red mantle in half, to give the other half of it to a beggar. Saint Martin was found on the original flag as well, but wasn’t part of it anymore since the 16th century, until 1948.
5. All clocks in the Dom tower have a name
I guess you need to think of these bad boys as pets (quite cold to pet though, but okay). Anyway, all of these clocks have a name. The giant swinging bell is named Salvator and weighs 8227 kgs; the smallest is called Adrianus and only weighs 281 kgs.
6. Members of a particular student association don’t walk near the Dom tower
Officially, members from the Utrechtsch Studenten Corps aren’t allowed to walk underneath the Dom tower. The reason?
Well, it’s a story that no one is sure of whether it happened, but I’m going to tell you anyway. A very long time ago, there was a student from another association (Unitas) that tried to end his or her life by jumping from the Dom tower. But, this student landed on top of another person, a member of USC. The person who tried to jump survived, but the one hit, didn’t.
And to make sure this doesn’t happen again (if it even happened), they are technically not allowed to walk under the Dom tower. But, once every five years a big crowd of members of USC walk under the Dom tower together.
7. Utrecht has their own bonbon
Since 1922, the Domtorentje bonbon has been made at the bakery of Theo Blom. It’s a big bonbon with a soft chocolate filling and totally worth stopping at and buying them. In my opinion, they’re some of the best souvenirs you could buy from Utrecht. They make around 3500- 4000 of them each week.
8. There are swinging bells in the Dom tower marked with an M
During the Second World War, the German occupiers were continually searching for valuable metals to create armoury and bullets. Just before the war, all-important bells were marked with an M of monument. Nowadays, you can still see the capital letter on them.
9. The place is marked where the top of the Dom tower would land if it would turn over
At Zadelstraat, around number 11, you can find a unique stone. This stone shows you where the top of the Dom tower would land if it would overturn.
10. Many famous Dutch people are from Utrecht
Yes, and I’m pretty sure you know at least one of them. Famous football players, such as Marco van Basten, Shanice van der Sanden and Wesley Sneijder. Sprint champion Dafne Schippers, judo champion Anton Geesink and so much more.
11. You can see a lot from the Dom tower
Did you know that when you climb the Dom tower, you can even see the skyline of Rotterdam and Amsterdam?
12. Utrecht is the fastest growing city in The Netherlands
Yes, Utrecht is the fastest growing city in The Netherlands. I can’t blame people for wanting to live there, to be honest, it’s a lovely city.
13. Utrecht is the youngest city in The Netherlands
Almost 45 per cent of the people that live in Utrecht are younger than 30 years old. That is mainly because Utrecht is home to many students and other relatively young adults.
14. Just south of Utrecht is the city where WiFi was invented
Nieuwegein is a city that is connected to Utrecht nowadays, and it is the birthplace of WiFi. In the 1970s, engineer Cees Links together with Vic Hayes, Bruce Tuch and tons of technical people worked on a wireless communication system for cash systems for a company called NCR.
From that idea and creation, the WiFi system got attention from Steve Jobs, who integrated it in all the Apple products.
15. The first carillonneur of the Dom tower has a disability
Did you know that the very first carillonneur of the Dom tower in Utrecht, Jacob van Eyck, was blind? And he was still unstoppable in his function, which is pretty inspiring if you ask me. He was born in the city of Heusden, Noord- Brabant, but officially became a carillonneur for the Dom church in 1625.
16. A woman was voluntarily locked up for 57 years in a church
In the Buurkerk, sister Bertken was voluntarily living in a small prison cell. She did this to dedicate her time to God fully. So, most of the days she was either praying, meditating or writing poems. She was locked up when she was 30 and stayed in here until the day she died at the age of 87.
17. The Dom tower is the tallest church tower in The Netherlands
Not only is it the most famous landmark in Utrecht, but with 112 metres high and 465 stairs, it is also the tallest in the country.
18. Domplein, or Dom square, wasn’t a square until the 18th century
On the square of today, another part of the Dom church was located. However in 1674, during a tornado, the middle part of the building collapsed. The remains were left here for over 100 years, and only after that, the Domplein was created.
19. Utrecht exists because of the Roman Empire
The Romans built the fortress Trajectum, and from there on, the city of Utrecht slowly emerged. If you want to know more about this specific part of the history of Utrecht city, then I can highly recommend you to visit DOMunder. With this activity in Utrecht, you will go underneath the Dom square and will search for the historical facts of Utrecht.
20. The people from Utrecht have quite a few nicknames
The citizens of Utrecht were nicknamed ‘Kortoren’, ‘Langoren’ and even ‘Sleuteldragers’ (key carriers). But also Utrechtenaar, which was, in the beginning, a regular name, but as a new scapegoat was needed for the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, the people from Utrecht were it this time.
If you were naming someone an Utrechtenaar, it suddenly meant you said that person was gay (which was highly prohibited and punishable by death at the time!). If you had someone you didn’t like, you could simply say that you’ve seen that person walk around the ruins of the Dom tower, as the Dom church was a meeting place for gay men at the time and the authorities did the rest of the work. At least 300 people in The Netherlands got the death penalty for being gay. So, nowadays, the name Utrechtenaar isn’t used anymore, due to that part of history.
Nowadays, they are either called Utrechter, or T-dieven (t- thieves) / T-slikkers (t-swallowers), because in the city dialect they don’t pronounce the last -t of certain words. Sometimes they are also named Theerandjes, after one of the delicacies in Utrecht city.
21. The new roof of the square in front of Utrecht Centraal has a nickname
It’s nicknamed ‘Bollendak’, or orbs roof, which is very straight forward like we are.
22. The longest street in The Netherlands is found here
With the length of around 5 kilometres, the Amsterdamsestraatweg is the oldest in the country. It’s completely straight and around 200 years old. It’s often nicknamed to Straatweg by the people from Utrecht.
23. There are many Horeca outlets in Utrecht
It is estimated that there are around 1069 restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, etc. in the city of Utrecht.
24. They recreated the Domtower in Japan
Yes, they actually did. But, the Japanese built in an elevator, which makes reaching the top of the tower definitely a lot easier.
25. The only Dutch Pope ever was from Utrecht
Only one person from The Netherlands has ever been a pope, and that was Adrianus VI, who was from Utrecht.
26. There’s steam coming from the streets
There are certain locations in Utrecht city, where you can see steam lifting. The reason? Around the Dom church, you can see steel plates with steam and coloured lights at specific times.
While that might sound a bit odd, it actually refers and marks the location of the wall that surrounded a Roman army camp 2000 years ago.
27. Utrecht is the city of Nijntje or Miffy from Dick Bruna
Dick Bruna was born in Utrecht and created the world-famous rabbit, called Nijntje in Dutch, but Miffy in English as Nijntje is generally hard to pronounce. The first book of Nijntje dates back to 1955. And in total, 32 books were made, that are translated into over fifty languages (!).
Dick Bruna was very strict when it comes to translations. If a book was translated into a language that he didn’t speak, he always made sure that is was translated to Dutch again, so he could check whether nothing from the story was missing.
You can find Nijntje in Utrecht at the Miffy museum, but also at some traffic lights.
28. The repertoire of the bells of the Dom tower changes four times a year
Every quarter, you will hear some classic tunes from the Dom tower, but they are not always the same. It’s changed four times a year, and five people are busy for an entire day to change the songs in the tower alone.
Fun fact: every Saturday the famous town carillonneur plays the carillon (all 50 bells!): Malgosia Fiebig. She plays them every Saturday from 11:00- 12:00. And from April until November, also every Friday from 16:00- 17:00. She is the 17th town carillonneur to be playing in the Dom tower since 1623.
And it gets even better. One of the things you need to do in Utrecht city in summer is to listen to the concerts that they’re giving. Every Monday evening in July and August at 20:00, carillonneurs from all over the world come to Utrecht to play the bells. You can walk into the courtyard of the Dom tower for free to listen, but, the music can be heard throughout the centre of Utrecht.
29. Some manhole covers in Utrecht are special
There are quite a few of them that have an image of the Dom tower on them. And that’s pretty cool if you ask me.
30. Utrecht is home to around 40.000 businesses
31. There are about 262.000 jobs in Utrecht
32. Around 39.405 jobs are in healthcare
33. Utrecht has a population of approximately 357.000
34. Around 70.000 students study in Utrecht
But around 30.000 of them also live there.
35. There are people of 168 nationalities in Utrecht
36. The surface of Utrecht is around 99km2
37. There are about 40-50 hotels in Utrecht
38. There are approximately 350 restaurants in Utrecht
39. There are about 150 cafes and pubs in Utrecht
40. There are seven universities in Utrecht
41. The length of the yards along the canals in Utrecht is around 4 km
42. The first train station in Utrecht was built in 1843
Not only was it located on approximately the same location as today, but it was built on the soil that was a graveyard for criminals and people who committed suicide.
43. Every year 88 million travellers arrive or depart from Utrecht Central Station
44. The new train station of Utrecht cost around 420 million euros
45. Around 900 trains drive through Utrecht Centraal every day
46. There are 14 elevators and 19 escalators on Utrecht Centraal
47. The tower guard didn’t only use the Dom tower as a lookout
He also lived in the Dom tower with his family.
48. The Dom tower has been a symbol of Utrecht for at least 600 years
49. The biggest bicycle parking in the world is found in the city of Utrecht
It has room for 12500 bikes!
50. The walls of the Dom church are seven metres thick
51. Utrecht has a lot of nicknames
There’s 030 (after the standard first three numbers to reach someone in the city of Utrecht), Utereg (the name in the local dialect), Domstad (Dom city, named after the Dom church) and so much more.
52. King Willem- Alexander was born in Utrecht
On the 27th of April 1967, King Willem- Alexander was born in the Academisch Ziekenhuis in Utrecht. So, technically he is an Utrechter.
53. The Twijnstraat is the oldest shopping street in Utrecht
Yes, it is. Even during the 13th century, many shops were found in this street.
54. There’s a poem that never ends in Utrecht
Along the Oudegracht, there is a Dutch poem that starts around number 279, on the corner of Smeebrug. The letters of the poem are carved in the old streets, but it gets even better. Every Saturday afternoon, between 13:00 and 14:00, a new letter is added. This way, the poem keeps growing forever.
55. Utrecht was the capital of The Netherlands
In 1808, the city of Utrecht was the capital of Koninkrijk Holland (Kingdom Holland), when the French occupied it. But, only for six months.
56. Utrecht was voted the most beautiful city with canals in Europe
And rightly so. It even beat cities such as Amsterdam and Venice!
57. The name Utrecht actually has a meaning
We know that the Roman Empire is sort of responsible for the creation of Utrecht, and people think that’s also the case for the name. The Romans built their fortresses along the water, but not everywhere you could cross it. Where you could cross the water, was called a ‘trajectum’, which was then corrupted into ‘drecht’ (Dordrecht), ‘trecht’ (Utrecht), ‘tricht’ (Maastricht), etc.
When people started to travel around, they became confused with which ‘trecht’, etc. was meant and where they needed to go. So, ‘trajectum ad Rhenum Uut’, became the name of Utrecht. At that time, the city of Utrecht was actually located at the Rhine river, but nowadays this hasn’t been the case for centuries. ‘Uut’ meant downstream. But, this long name for Utrecht was eventually shortened to Utrecht (Uut-trecht). So, essentially you can say that it means city on the Rhine river, where the water flows downstream. Those Romans seem like pretty practical folks.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed this Utrecht blog about facts about the city of Utrecht, and that you’ve learned something. As you now know, there are tons of facts about Utrecht that are worth knowing. From fun facts to interesting facts about Utrecht, everything has come around. You will definitely be able to explore the Utrecht city centre in a better way.