It’s time for a small lesson in history! You wouldn’t have guessed, but Utrecht is full of castles. In fact, most of the buildings at Oudegracht are castles! The nowadays restaurant Oudaen is, as you may know, and many, many more.
Fresenburgh for example, is the building at Oudegracht where you can find Hollister. The Zara store at Utrecht’s shopping street is also a castle: Groenewoude. Just like Blankenburg, which you might know as book store De Slegte. These three and Oudaen were built in the 13th century, which makes them nearly seven hundred years old. Pretty old, huh?! The building in which Strand West is located, Drankenburg, is even a century older! Wow!
When you get out of the centre of Utrecht, into the green ‘polders’, you’ll discover some ‘real’ castles. Slot Zuylen for example. The famous Dutch writer Belle van Zuylen lived in this castle. You can visit this castle, which I can definitely recommend! Another castle you can visit is the biggest castle in The Netherlands: Kasteel De Haar. This is the kind of castle you read about in fairytales. The castle is designed by Pierre Cuypers, the architect who also designed the Central Station and the Rijksmuseum, both in Amsterdam. Another gorgeous castle is Drakensteyn. Unfortunatly you can’t visit this castle because it’s private property of our Queen Beatrix! She doesn’t live here at the moment, but she did live here before she became Queen and will return when she resigns her function on April 30th this year.
I hear you thinking ‘But why so many castles in Utrecht, for crying out loud!’. Well, around the year 1175 Utrecht was the biggest and most important city in The Netherlands. Wealth attracts the wealthy and so most castles were inhabited by people who worked for the Bishop of Utrecht or were in the army.
So, when you visit Zara or De Slegte: look up and enjoy!
Contribution by Sanne Wierda – love is the new black