Coming to the more modern highlights of Utrecht, TivoliVredenburg would have to be the first thing that comes to mind. This architectural marvel, easily distinguishable by its bold, modernist facade just beside Hoog Catharijne Mall, stands as the latest addition to the city’s already thriving music and arts scene. Completed in June 2014, its five massive concert halls have already played host to some of the region’s most popular musicians and artists, including M83, Kendrick Lamar, Alt-J, Tycho, Bastille, Marilyn Manson, and The XX.
The other, not surprisingly, would have to be the world’s biggest bicycle parking garage. There are in fact, almost as many bicycles as there are people in the Netherlands, and most of them get used pretty regularly, and coupled with the relatively small size of the country, a multi-level parking garage seems like an ingenious solution. Slated to be completed in late 2018, it will be able to hold more than 12,000 bicycles at maximum capacity – right under the central station, where a large number of commuters travel by bike to and from. Such is the level of Dutch ingenuity and innovation that is well-deserving of global appraisal and recognition.
Walking on the streets along the Oudegracht, I notice several lines of text engraved into the brick and concrete tiles running parallel to the canal. I later learn that this is part of a social sculpture started in 2012, dubbed De Letters Van Utrecht (Letters of Utrecht). It’s an ongoing project by the local Guild of Poets, and as each week progresses, a letter is engraved, envisioned to continue into the 22nd and 23rd century, for as long as the city’s residents support it. Words would slowly be inscribed, and with each passing year, verses known only to the next writer’s imagination will continue to wind through the streets.