Welcome to the Explore Utrecht Mini Tours! These six weeks I, together with photographers Daniel and Pierre, will take you on a visual and written journey through the city. We’ll discover places that we think are interesting and definitely worth spending a bit more time. Because this is our last Mini Tour, I wanted to end on a cross section of the city. That’s why I’m using the principle of the Line.
The Line?! Is that a place in Utrecht? Nope, it’s a method to explore a certain place or area. You grab the map, chose a start and finish and draw a straight line between the two. The goal is to waver from the line as little as possible. My starting point was busstop Maliebaan on the Nachtegaalstraat and my finish was the busstop Hasebroekstraat on the Vleutenseweg.
The Nachtegaalstraat is the shopping street for Buiten-Wittevrouwen, which is the name of this neighbourhood. It has the Wittenvrouwen convent to thank for its name, which was a convent on this side of the city. It was torn down in the 18th century and the plot of land was used for building houses. Up until 1978 there was a schoolcomplex on what today is known as the Joke Smitplein. The schoolcomplex was for a school of different crafts like carpentry, woodworking and forging. From 1978 the area become property of the municipality, who tore down the complex to make space for new buildings. Buiten-Wittenvrouw is bordered by the Maliesingel on this side. (Read more about this in the Mini Tour Bruntskameren).
The Nobelstraat used to not only be a dead end on the city walls (there was no bridge until 1859) but also a dead end on the immunity of Saint John with the Janskerk as a centre piece (read more in the Mini Tour about Romanesque architecture): an area around the church where only clerics were welcome. On the Kromme Nieuwegracht you can find the backend of the immunity around the Saint Peter. The quarter was named after the Utrecht University, who has been housed in one of the many beautiful houses in this part of the city from 1636 onward. If you want to read more about the Universiteitskwartier these day, you can read the blog about it by my colleague Lisa, she can tell you all about it.
On the Korte Minrebroederstraat you can see the back of the city hall and the old firefighter station. People call this the ‘stadhuisplein’ (city hall square). On the Ganzenmarkt there’s an old squat building called Ubica, which has been renovated to be a hotel annex bar-restaurant. In the middle of the road you can find a ‘overkluisd wed’: a sloped road up from the water’s edge, that goes through a tunnel. It’s meant to get gods from the waterside to street level. Like you’ve read in the Mini Tour for the Twijnstraat, the Oudegracht used to be the harbour for the city of Utrecht and now the most famous shopping street of Utrecht. You can find the de Winkel van Sinkel across and downstairs at the wharf you can find Steakhouse Broadway (where you can find the tastiest spareribs).
The Zakkendragerssteeg used to be the quickest way from the harbour to the market on the Vredenburg (read about it in Mini Tour Katrijn van Leemput). Cross the Vredenburg and pass through the Hollandse Toren and music centre Tivoli-Vredenburg. You’ll arrive on the ‘street’ called Vredenburg, the most important transport road into the city. Together with the next part of the route (the Smakkelaarsveld), this is the most busy route for bicycles in the Netherlands.
The Smakkelaarsveld used to be the start of the smugglers route through Utrecht, but now it’s home to a large pop-up bicycle parking. The area is constantly in development. Right now they’re working on the final touches on connecting the Catharijnesingel across. The Leidse Veertunnel is named after the ferry that used to leave twice a day from the Smakkelaarsveld.
The Turkish mosque is the entryway to the multicultural neighbourhood of Lombok, which is interspersed by the Kanaalstraat, internationally renowned for its many bakeries and middle eastern supermarkets like Persepolis. Lombok used to be a typical labor district, but these days it’s mostly yuppies and students that live here. Cross through one of the streets on the right past the Mosque and walk onto the Vleutenseweg. I’ve grabbed the bus from the busstop Hasebroekstraat, but you can also have a walk around Lombok to discover some tasty food like börek or a Turkish pizza. There’s so much to explore!
The past few weeks you’ve been able to enjoy 6 different Mini Tours through all of Utrecht. We’ve started doing the tours because we love to discover more about our city and her history. And it turned out to be a succes!
We got so many nice reactions, that we’ve decided to go offline with the Mini Tours. We’re going to offer two out of the six tours in real life with a real Explore Utrecht guide. Which two tours that would be? That’s your choice! You can vote for your favourite Mini Tour on our Facebook page and maybe you’ll be joining us for your favourite tour.
The dates for the tours will be announced later on, after which you can book your spot on the tours. We’re making the tours ‘pay-what-you-want’, which means you decide at the end of the tour how much you feel it was worth! You can make it as expensive or cheap as you want.