Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and where is located one of the most prestigious national universities.
I can say that Utrecht it is a must visit not only for its architectural beauty but also for their academic... and religious history. True science and faith go hand in hand in this metropolis forever. Utrecht has a strategic geographical location, not only because it is located in the center of Holland, as is close to the river Rhine and therefore already was once the capital of the ancient kingdom. It is also one of the cities that belong to the so-called religious belt since congregate all kinds of religions in this area and do not think there are only Protestant churches, we must not forget that Utrecht once belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, where you also will encounter the old palace of the bishop where is situated the statue of the first non-Italian pope, Adrian VI. True, there was a Dutch from Utrecht in the Vatican, but was not the most popular pontiffs in the history of the Catholic Church not only by his nationality, but also by his humble origins, his papacy was short, about a year and remains the legend that has poisoned. And here the religious past mixes with the advancement of knowledge, because right next are some of the old facilities of the university that was founded in 1636.
In the center of the metropolis is this famous tower of the Domo, with 112 meters high, which is part of the cathedral of the same name and you will check that the tower is separated from the main church, due to a natural disaster that hit part of the building. If you are up for the challenge you can climb its 465 steps which will have a broad view of this Dutch city from which was built the famous university.
The Museum and Sonnenborgh Observatory is an obligatory stop for those who like astronomy, is located in Smeetoren, one of the largest and oldest fortifications of Utrecht. This is the first observatory at the University of Utrecht which was established in 1642, at a time when this area was much further away from the city center and the visibility was excellent. With the passage of time was abandoned and became almost obsolete, however, you can visit the facilities where they will find five large telescopes, and the oldest has more than 150 years.
Along channels that pierce Utrecht there are streets full of bars and interesting shops frequented by thousands of young students, but the dark past of the Second World War in a way also survives in this city. Still standing is the former headquarters of the Gestapo and right beside a famous gate for the worst reasons, where thousands of prisoners were taken to be interrogated, tortured, and many simply disappeared. At the end of the war the citizens still considered the possibility of bringing down the building because it was a very painful reminder of the horror, but today is a coffee and the gate leading to a soundproof basement is a disco. Weird, right?
On the outskirts of town is the new university town, where there is the hospital of Utrecht and right beside one of the most advanced pediatric oncology center in Europe. In this vast area are located several colleges, buildings, dormitories for students, playing fields and an indoor pool. The Utrecht University is not only the past, but it is also a forward-looking and research is a big part of that promise for a brave new world.