UTRECHT, fi'trelct (Dutch, ii'tr'etit), Netherlands, the capital of the province of Utrecht, situated on the Old Rhine, where the Vecht branches off from it, 25 miles south by east of Amsterdam. It is a pleasant town with fine shaded promenades, and intersected with canals. The old fortifications are laid out in boulevards, but a double line of new forts sur rounds the city. There are several very old churches, including the Gothic cathedral, built in the 13th century. The tower has a notable chime of 42 bells. Other notable buildings are those of the University, recently extended, the government building, the courthouse and the archives, formerly the palace of King Louis Napoleon. The university was established in 1636, and has a library of 200,000 volumes and a botanical garden. There is a meterological observatory and veterinary school. The indus trial establishments include pigment factories, saw-mills, breweries, two organ factories, a number of cigar factories, an iron foundry, etc.
The town is one of the most important railroad and canal centres in the kingdom. Utrecht is the oldest of the Batavian cities, and was called by the Romans Traiectum ad Rhenum. In 1579 the Act of Confederation of the Dutch provinces declaring their independence of Spain was signed here, and here the Peace of Utrecht was concluded in 1713 between the powers in the War of the Spanish Succession. The prov ince lies between the Zuyder Zee and the Rhine. The northern portion is a dairy section; there is intensive agriculture along the Crooked Rhine and the southwest portion of the province is largely devoted to fruit-raising. The com munal population is about 125,000; of the prov ince 300,000.