Utrecht

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Utrecht is the name of a Dutch province and also the name of the city that is the capital of the province. The city of Utrecht is the fourth city of The Netherlands (290,529 inhabitants on 1 June, 2007) and is one of the cities constituting the urban region called "Randstad" (Border City). The city of Utrecht is situated centrally in the country and is an important crossing of roads, railways, and waterways. Its central location makes the city well suited for fairs, exhibitions, and conferences. The largest convention center of The Netherlands, "de Jaarbeurs", is housed adjacent to Utrecht's central railway station. The university of Utrecht is the largest Dutch university.

Utrecht is the see of the Roman Catholic archbishop, who is the head of the Dutch ecclesiastical province. Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands, with its history dating back to the early Middle Ages when the Northumbrian missionary Willibrordus became the first bishop of Utrecht. In 695 he was appointed archbishop and in 703 Pepin II (the Frankish mayor of the palace) gave him Utrecht as seat for his missionary activities. Later in the Middle Ages, Utrecht became the most important city of the Northern part of the Low Countries.

The city gave birth to The Netherlands as an independent republic, when in 1579 the seven northern provinces of the Low Countries signed the Union of Utrecht. In this document the provinces promised solidarity in their battle of independence against the Spanish King who ruled the country at the time. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 settled the War of the Spanish Succession.