Utrecht’s most famous sight is the Dom Tower, a 112-metre-high steeple that was part ... More of the Minster until a fierce storm in 1675 destroyed the Minster’s nave. Thousands of tourists climb the tower every year, and are rewarded with a dazzling view of the city.
Utrecht’s network of canals give a very Dutch feel to the inner city. In summer, the terraces of the many bars that line the canals are packed with people enjoying the sunshine, while the winter months see people taking a welcome respite from the cold inside the cosy cafes.
The Dutch Railways headquarters are located in the Netherlands’ largest brick building, the Nederlandse Spoorwegen, which also houses a museum detailing the history of rail travel in the Netherlands. Utrecht’s university is the largest in the country, and its museum explains the world of science from the past to the present. Another interesting museum to visit is the National Museum ‘From Musical Clock to Street Organ’, where several centuries of mechanical instruments including clocks and automatically functioning musical instruments are on display.
A huge shopping complex, the Hoog Catharijne, stretches between the city centre and the central railway station. A variety of goods can be found here and in the city’s many markets, such as the Tweede-handsgoederenmarkt, a great place to find second-hand bargains.
In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Succession, and included the proviso that Spain cede control of Gibraltar to Great Britain. Utrecht gradually became the centre of the Dutch railway network after a railway connecing Utrecht and Amsterdam was built in 1843, and remains today the headquarters for Dutch Rail.
In World War II, Utrecht was held by German troops until they surrendered the Netherlands on 5th May 1945. Canadian forces entered the city on 7th May and the city began the process of recovery. Utrecht has grown considerably in recent times, with the construction of new neighbourhoods and the inclusion of Vleuten-de-Meern, until 2001 a separate municipality.
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