Utrecht City Center
Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. Almost 350,000 people call it home. It has a rich history which I will not bore you with. The highlights are more appropriate.
Utrecht was put on the map by the Romans around 50 CE. They called it Traiectum. It was a place where the water of the Rhine was shallower and people could cross. In the middle ages it was this area that was coveted by both the counts from Holland (west of Utrecht) as well as those of Gelre (to the east) and arguments frequently broke out among the Utrecht people as to who was supporting whom to the point where it looked more like a civil war.
The Cathedral shown on top of the page and below was built in 1254 and dedicated to Saint Martin. It's the highest church in the Netherlands.
Saint Martin's Cathedral or Dom Church stands at 368 feet.
Besides the cathedral in Haarlem, this is the only church in the Netherlands built as a cathedral in the middle ages. The choir, transept and tower are the only 3 parts of the church that survive today; the nave was never entirely finished and destroyed by a tornado in 1674. As it was never finished, the tower is now free-standing. On the pavement in between, the contours are shown of where the nave was supposed to be.
Information about Utrecht can be found here. The website is in English and there is a lot of information on this site. Because we're going on a guided tour, you may nog get a chance to see everything or visit every store on this website but perhaps afterwards, there is some room to pick up an item here or there.
The Dutch are pretty famous for their chocolate so if you are a connoisseur of this sweet treat, I must insist you visit at least one chocolate store in any of the cities we visit. And please do not go for the chocolate bars..go for the real thing like the handmade bonbons in the shop's display. You will not regret it!