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Utrecht (city)

Utrecht is capital city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. With 250,000 inhabitants, it is the fourth city of the Netherlands.

The municipality also comprises the following towns, villages and townships: De Meern, Haarzuilens, Vleuten.

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The origin of the city was the erection of a Roman fortification (castellum) around 47 A.D. It was built at the river Rhine, which followed a more northern part than nowadays and was the border of the Roman Empire. The name of the place was Traiectum, which means fordable place. During the ages around 500 Romans were encamped here. Near the fort there was a settlement with artisans, traders and soldiers' women and children.

In the middle of the 2nd century German peoples regularly invaded the territories that Romans had conquered from them, and around 270 the Romans left Utrecht. About the period 270-500 little is known. In the 6th century Utrecht came under the influence of the Franks.

During the Middle Ages Utrecht was the most important city of the Northern Netherlands. Willibrordus is usually considered to be its first bishop. In 695 he was appointed archbishop of the Frisians and in 703 or 704 Pepin II of Herstal gave him Utrecht as see for his missionary activities further north.

Later the bishops of Utrecht exercised worldly power not only in the province of Utrecht (Nedersticht) but also further north east. The Veluwe soon became part of Gelre but Overijssel remained the Oversticht. In 1528 the wordly power over both Neder- and Oversticht was transferred to Charles V of Hapsburg, who became the Lord of the 17 Netherlands (the current Benelux plus the 'Nord' of France).

In 1572 the northern 7 provinces of these Low Countries signed the Union of Utrecht. They decided to work together against the Spanish rule. The Union of Utrecht is seen as the beginning of the Dutch Republic. In 1580 this predominantly Protestant state abolished the bishoprics, including the one in Utrecht. Only in 1856(?) the see was reinstated.

Nowadays, important influences in Utrecht are the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) and Utrecht University. Utrecht is the center of the Dutch railroad network. The city is also known for its Dom Tower of Utrecht and its canalstructure in the centre of the city. It is home to FC Utrecht (a major league football club), which recently has run into financial trouble, and plays in Stadion De Nieuwe Galgewaard.

Important people from Utrecht

Museums in Utrecht

External Links

Site of the city (http://www.utrecht.nl/)

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