Utrecht is one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands. It was founded as a Roman army camp on the river Rhine, which was then located more to the north. The name comes from a fordable place (Trecht) in a tributary (Uut). The city has a beautiful historical center, part of which was taken down - much to the dismay of many - to build Hoog-Catharijne shopping center.
The city has over 280,000 inhabitants, which makes it the fourth largest city in the Netherlands. It has been predicted that the number of inhabitants will reach 340,000 in 2025, mainly due to the construction of a satellite town to the west of Utrecht.
Utrecht is located in the center of the Netherlands, at a junction of motorways, waterways and railways. It is part of the Randstad region, a major agglomeration that also includes Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. It is located at 45 kilometers from Amsterdam, 65 kilometers from Rotterdam, 75 kilometers from The Hague and 90 kilometers from Eindhoven. The media city of Hilversum is located 30 kilometers to the north of Utrecht.
The service sector provides the foundation of the city's economy. The Jaarbeurs exhibition center organizes many conferences, exhibitions and events that attract millions of visitors every year. The city is also a center for information and communication technology. In addition, there are financial institutions, and the city houses the largest university of the country, as well as other institutes of higher learning. The historical center attracts many day trippers, the literal high point of the day being the Dom Tower.
The city does not have an airport, but it located not far from Schiphol Airport. Small aircraft can land on the grass of the Hilversum airfield, to the north of the city. The airfield is used more for recreational purposes.
Utrecht has an extensive bus network. Also, there are two speed-tram lines, which are designed above all as a connection to the suburbs of IJsselstein and Nieuwegein. To use the public transport system, you can buy strip cards on many locations. The city is located at a railway juncture. Trains depart for all other major cities in the Netherlands.
Utrecht is surrounded by motorways. From there, large roads lead to the center of the city, which makes Utrecht very accessible, accept during morning and evening rush hour and during major events at the Jaarbeurs conference center. Driving in the center may be difficult: there are many one-way streets, and some are only open to public transport.
Finding a place to park your car in the street may be difficult. On the other hand, Utrecht has many (large) car parks in the city center. Keep in mind that these too may be full when there is an exhibition or event at the Jaarbeurs. There is a dynamic parking information system. In the east of the city, near FC Utrecht's football stadium, you can park for free (except during matches). To the south of the city is the Westraven transferium, where you can park for € 6 a day, which includes a ticket for the speed-tram to the city center.
In and around Utrecht there are many hotels, but due to the many conferences, exhibitions, etc. they may be fully booked. If you want to be sure of having a hotel room in the city center, make sure you book in advance. Utrecht has one 5 star hotel: Grand Hotel Karel V in the center of the city.
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