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

Glimmingehus

Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".