Utrecht and the Oudegracht

Utrecht, the fourth largest city of the Netherlands, is an ancient city. It is thought to have been settled a few thousand years before Christ and remains the religious capital of the country. The many Catholic churches that remain in the city today and the Dom Tower, a structure built sometime in the 1300s evidence this religious standing. The tower stands at 368 feet (112.5 m), making it the highest church steeple in the Netherlands.


Another feature dating the city is the Oudegracht, literally “Old Canal.” Starting in the south of the city and eventually winding its way to the center, the canal was built in 1122 because a new dam had allowed for a lower water level. In 1275, the city built locks that enabled boats to navigate different water levels. This allowed for the area beneath the streets, typically called wharfs, to become dry and habitable.