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Photos of Utrecht 1998-1999

These pictures were taken during my stay in Utrecht, fourth city of the Netherlands, and in my opinion the finest city in which I have had the privilege of living.

The pictures on this page are just low-grade thumbnails. Click on them to see the real thing, and hover over them to see the captions...

The Dom TowerThe tower dominates the city. It is, however, no longer attached to the Dom (cathedral) to which it belongs, because the central main body of the cathedral, constructed due to lack of funds from inferior materials, was blown down in a mediaeval storm. The rubble lay in the resulting gap for over a century, but gradually it became incorporated into other buildings around the city. The picture of the Dom, taken from the top of the tower, shows the place where the rest of the cathedral once was.The Dom Tower is no longer attached to the Dom. This view looks down into the gap
The Winkel Van SinkelThe Winkel van Sinkel is a most unusual bar that was Holland's first department store (the concept was invented by Mr Sinkel) and then a bank before its recent conversion. The doorway is guarded by four karyatids. Like many of Utrecht's bars, it turns into a nightclub at the pumpkin hour.These Karyatids guard the doorway of the Winkel Van Sinkel
Old postcard of the Kasteel van Oudaen, now a bar and restaurantAnother interesting bar is my favourite, the Oudaen, which is a mediaeval castle with its own underground brewery. It has remained unchanged since the 14th century, and looks today much as it did in this old postcard. It doesn't turn into a nightclub, but it does double as one of the best restaurants in the city. The Oudaen is situated on the Oude Gracht, a unique sunken canal situated well below ground level that is the lifeblood of the city. There are some very old and interesting buildings along it. The picture on the right shows an impressively massive church.Masonic Hall
Cafes along the Oude GrachtOn a summers day, there is no better place to eat than in one of the many restaurants and cafes along the banks of the Oude Gracht. Much of the city is more modern. On the right you can see one of the main junctions in the centre, showing the water tower in the background.Downtown Utrecht showing the Water Tower
Bicycle ParkIf the Oude Gracht is the lifeblood of Utrecht, then bicycles are the lifeblood of Holland. This is the central bicycle park in Utrecht. If you don't fancy cycling, another way of exploring Utrecht is by boat along it's network of canals.South-eastern arc of the Ring Canal
Flower MarketThe markets are always colourful. Everywhere you go, there are flower sellers, and on the right you can see the window display of a discount store in the central shopping district.Window Display of Bokker
My local Hash BoatAlmost as common as flower sellers are coffee shops. Not all of them are built on land; this is my local hash boat, which is moored across the canal from the main prison. 
VrijmarktEvery year, April 30th is Koninginnedag (Queen's Day), and in many towns there is a massive street party combined with a Vrijmarkt (Free Market), which means that anybody can sell anything without any sort of licence. The junk that appears is amazing, and some of it returns year after year. Nobody cares much if they sell anything, it's the atmosphere that matters.Vrijmarkt
Beer is, of course, an important part of any celebrationAnother aspect of the Queens Day celebrations, apart from beer, is music. On normal days, bands often ply up and down the Oude Gracht on barges, playing to the diners in the canalside restaurants. On Queen's Day, any space not taken up by stalls is occupied by a band. Space is at a premium; this enterprising blues band found a perch on a lock gate.A Band on the Oude Gracht
Dusk in Utrecht. The Dom looms over the Oude Gracht

Thanks to Anne Otto for pausing here on her way to somewhere else, and correcting me on a few points :-)


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