Main railway hub
Interior of the modern train station "Utrecht Centraal", the main hub of the Dutch Railway Network, Utrecht, Utrecht (province), Netherlands
Some background information:
Utrecht is the administrative centre and also the most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located about 35 km (22 miles) to the southeast of the Dutch capital Amsterdam in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation. With its more than 345,000 residents Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands.
Utrecht’s founding date is usually related to the construction of a Roman fortification, probably built in around 50 AD. In Roman times, the name of the Utrecht fortress was "Traiectum", denoting its location at a possible crossing over one of the three branches of the river Rhine after having forked at today’s German-Dutch border. The settlement’s name later became "Ultra Traiectum" before it was changed again to the Dutch "Uut Trecht", meaning "downriver crossing".
Around the year 200, the wooden walls of the fortification were replaced by sturdier tuff stone walls, remnants of which are still to be found below the buildings around Dom Square. From the middle of the 3rd century Germanic tribes regularly invaded the Roman territories. Around 275, the Romans could no longer maintain the northern border and Utrecht was abandoned. Little is known about the settlement in the following centuries, but under the influence of the growing realms of the Franks, during Dagobert I's reign in the 7th century, a church was built within the walls of the former Roman fortress. However, in ongoing border conflicts with the Frisians this first church was destroyed.
In 723, the Frankish leader Charles Martel bestowed the fortress iof Utrecht and the surrounding lands as the base of the bishops. From then on Utrecht became one of the most influential seats of power for the Roman Catholic Church and also one of the major trading centres in the Netherlands.
In the 12th century, Utrecht became a walled city. It was awarded town privilege by Holy Roman Emperor Henry V in 1122. Being seat of a bishopric, Utrecht was home to many churches and thereby also home to many sculptors, masons and wood carvers. The objects created by them were of superior quality so that they were also exported to the Lower Rhine region, to Normandy, Spain and even Norway. At that time Utrecht was already the political, religious and cultural centre of the northern Netherlands.
In 1254, the foundation of Utrecht Cathedral was laid, after its predecessor churches on the same spot had already been burnt down. But its huge tower wasn’t finished before 1382. With a height of 112 metres, it is still the highest church tower in the Netherlands. Not before 1521, the construction works at Utrecht Cathedral were completed.
In 1559, Utrecht was made archiepiscopal see. But during the Beeldenstorm (in English: "Statue Storm") as part of the Protestant Reformation, the cathedral was damaged in 1580. In 1636, Utrecht University was founded. In 1674, the cathedral’s nave collapsed during a severe storm that also destroyed towers of other churches as well as the roofs of many dwelling houses. The nave has never been rebuilt, leaving the tower isolated from the east end of the cathedral.
The 17th century was the time of the so-called Dutch Golden Age, in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. However, the Dutch Golden Age was also the time, when Utrecht was surpassed by Amsterdam as the country's cultural centre and its most important as well as populous city.
In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, ended the War of the Spanish Succession. It was signed in the city by the belligerents of the war, including Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch Republic,
In the early 19th century, the role of Utrecht as a fortified town had become obsolete and the town walls could now be demolished to allow for expansion. Growth of the city increased when, in 1843, the railway connecting Utrecht to Amsterdam was opened. During World War II, Utrecht was held by the Germans until the general German surrender of the Netherlands on 5th May 1945. British and Canadian troops that had surrounded the city entered it after that surrender, on 7th May 1945. Since then the town has grown considerably and new neighbourhoods were built.
Today, Utrecht is a vibrant city and the centre of an agglomeration of altogether more than 660,000 people. Due to its central location in the Netherlands, its modern train station is also the main hub as well as the biggest hub of the Dutch Railway Network.
With its sixteen platforms Utrecht Centraal has more than 176,000 passengers and 900 trains leaving the station per day. Therefore, disruptions at the station can easily affect the rest of the country's railway network. The first station at the site was opened on 18th December 1843. Between 2008 and 2016, the station underwent a major reconstruction, as part of a general reconstruction of the Utrecht station area. The station hall was replaced by a new glass structure, designed by architects Benthem Crouwel Architekten, the sheltering roofs on the platforms were restored, and the station has been separated once again from the Hoog Catharijne shopping area.