At some 13.5 kilometers in length, this year’s Tour de France Grand Depart takes us to the Netherland’s fourth largest city, Utrecht. Only a half hour from Amsterdam by train (45 minutes by car), Utrecht is a city of just under 331,000 residents and it home to some modern marvels of science, architecture, learning and commerce despite its foundations as a Roman city founded in 47 AD.
1. Dragon Schoolyard Playground – a unique and secluded playground that features a meandering, slithering 50 meter (190 feet) long dragon that is sure to be on the kids’ must see list.
2. Dutch Watertower at Heuveloord – these unique architectural features of the Dutch, not to mention Utrecht’s city landscape.
3. Ruins of Fort Vossegat – fort constructed from 1817-1819 to defend Utrecht along the waterline from access to the Rhine.
4. One of Utrecht’s many citywide bike path/Utrecht Science Park with the colorful Hogeschool building.
5. Rietveld’s Schroder House – Utrecht’s claim to modernism fame and second most famous piece of architecture, second only to the ubiquitous Domtoren.
6. Utrecht Province House – seat of government for the Province of Utrecht.
7. New Dutch Waterline/Fort de Bilt – the waterline today offers many recreational opportunities along the old canals and rivers the meander throughout Holland.
8. Museum Maluku (MuMa) – museum dedicated to the Moluccan community in the Netherlands. Moluccans are a people from the Maluku Islands between Indonesia and New Guinea.
9. Utrecht City Theatre – built at the direction of the City Council and completed in 1941.
10. Stadsbuitengracht – this canal outlines the old city of Utrecht Originally settled on the mighty Rhine River, the canals of Utrecht remained as the flow of the river moved south.
11. Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum – the Dutch railway Museum has been situated in this former rail station (built in 1874) since 1954 and exhibits large railway equipment and locomotives.
12. Ledig Erf – this bridge is one of twelve that crosses the Stadsbuitengracht into Utrecht’s historic centre, but importantly intersects with the quaint and picturesque Oudegracht on the city’s south end.
13. Saint Martin’s Church (Sint-Martinuskerk) – this church was built 1899-1901, but decommissioned in 1974 and converted into apartments, giving new meaning to the term “sanctuary”.
14. Eetcafé Statenjacht – this historic Dutch warship now serves as a unique place to pick up some grub in while at anchor in Veilinghaven harbor (winter) or while at sail in Utrecht’s canals (in summer).
15. Jaarbeurs Utrecht – at 100,000 square meters (1 million + square feet), this is a massive convention center that hosts various national events, not to mention the Tour de France Grand Depart!
16. Holland Casino Utrecht – one of fourteen casinos throughout the country that provide some 265 million euros to the national treasury.
Surely there are others. Please share your favorite part of Utrecht.