Top Historic Sights in Utrecht, Netherlands

Explore the historic highlights of Utrecht

St. Martin's Cathedral

St. Martin's Cathedral or Dom Church was the cathedral of the bishopric of Utrecht during the Middle Ages. The first chapel dedicated to Saint Martin in Utrecht was founded around 630 by Frankish clergy under the patronage of the Merovingian kings but was destroyed during an attack of the Frisians on Utrecht shortly thereafter. The site of this first chapel within Utrecht is unknown. Saint Willibrord (died 739), the Apost ...
Founded: 1023/1254 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Buurkerk

The Buurkerk is a former medieval parish church. It is documented as being burned in in 1131, 1173, 1253 and 1279. The tower dates from 1370, but was never finished. In 1577 a cannon was installed in the church tower, aimed at Vredenburg (castle) where the Spanish soldiers there were under siege by the Utrecht schutters. Around 1580 the church endured the protestant reformation and in 1586 it was formally handed over to t ...
Founded: 1279 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

St. Peter's Church

The Pieterskerk (St. Peter"s Church) is one of the oldest in Utrecht. Its construction began in 1039 and it was inaugurated on 1 May 1048 by Bernold, Bishop of Utrecht (although the lost west towers were probably only finished about a century after the inauguration). Characteristic of the Romanesque style in which it is built are the church"s large nave pillars, each hewn from one piece of red sandstone, and the ...
Founded: 1039-1048 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

St. Nicholas' Church

The St Nicholas' Church is a medieval parish church from the 12th century that was reconstructed in the 15th century into a gothic church. An unusual feature is the 14th century cupola painting in the crossing with its ornamental and geometric shapes.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

St. John's Church

Saint John’s Church is a Romanesque basilica was founded shortly after 1040 by Bishop Bernold and dedicated to John the Baptist. It was in the Middle Ages one of five collegiate churches of the city. Saint John’s Church was originally largely identical to the St Peter’s Church and the defunct church of Paul Abbey.
Founded: c. 1040 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Fort Hoofddijk

Fort Hoofddijk was built in 1879 as one of the fortifications around Utrecht that formed part of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, or "New Dutch waterline". This defense line made use of inundating parts of Holland to stop the advance of the enemy, but because Utrecht was on relatively high ground, it needed an additional ring of fortifications. Today the Botanical Gardens of Utrecht University are located at th ...
Founded: 1879 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

St. James' Church

The Jacobikerk is named after its patron saint St. James the Greater. The church is one of the medieval parish churches of Utrecht, along with the Buurkerk, the Nicolaïkerk and the Geertekerk. Today it is known as the starting place for Dutch pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella along the Way of St. James. The current gothic church dates from the end of the 13th century, but was expanded in the 14th and 15th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

St. Gertrude's Church

St. Gertrude's Church is he smallest and newest medieval parish church dedicated to the saint Gertrudis van Nijvel. It was built between 1248-1259. The choir and transept were added a century later and the tower around 1400.
Founded: 1248-1259 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Fort Vechten

Fort Vechten was constructed between 1867 and 1870 as part of the so-called Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie (The "New Dutch Water Line") to defend the cities of the western Netherlands from overland attack. The history of Vechten dates however back to the Roman times. The Romans, who apparently chose the spot because it controlled a side-arm of the Lower Rhine, built their castellum by the year 4 AD, and possibly n ...
Founded: 1867-1870 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Rietveld Schröder House

The Rietveld Schröder House was built in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children. It constitutes both inside and outside a radical break with all architecture before it. The house is one of the best known examples of De Stijl-architecture and arguably the only true De Stijl building. Mrs. Schröder lived in the house until her death in 1985. The ho ...
Founded: 1924 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Fort Rhijnauwen

Fort Rhijnauwen was built between 1868 and 1875 as part of the New Dutch Water Defence Line. Because of its architectural style and good state of preservation, the fort is historically unique. Due it was closed to the general public for years it became a paradise for many endangered plants and animals. There are also weasels, foxes, roe, grass snakes and many varieties of butterflies. In winter, hundreds of bats hibernate ...
Founded: 1868-1875 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Fort Ruigenhoek

Fort Ruigenhoek was built between 1869-1870 as part of the so-called Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie(The 'New Dutch Water Line') to defend the cities of the western Netherlands from overland attack.
Founded: 1869-1870 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Fort Voordorp

Fort Voordorp was built between 1867-1871 as a part of the Netherlands water defence line. Today it is used for events and conferences.
Founded: 1867-1871 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Fort Lunet

The four crescent shaped forts of Lunetten have been build between 1822 and 1828 as part of the Dutch Water Line. Forts and fortified towns have been constructed to protect weaknesses in the waterline. Combined with natural bodies of water, it could be used to transform the economic heartland of the Dutch Republic almost into an island.
Founded: 1822-1828 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Gruyères Castle

The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.

In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.

The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.

A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.