Make a note of Saturday 12 September, when special buildings in Utrecht, which you are normally not allowed into, will be opening their doors to the public as part of the European Heritage Days. Five must-sees.
Earlier this year, the former post office on Neude, which has been closed for many years, finally reopened its doors. Architect Joseph Crouwel designed the building in the style of the Amsterdam School. This monumental building, which now houses the library and a number of shops, was built between 1917 and 1924. The impressive, parabola-shaped hall and glazed yellow bricks, adorned with sculptures inspired by Egyptian and Assyrian art, form the main body of the current library.
> Neude 11
Fort Lunet I in the Lunetten district is one of four forts built on the higher section of the New Dutch Waterline (an ingenious defence structure), which could not be flooded. These smaller forts were built in the shape of half-moons (lunet), and together they form a single line of defence. Lunet I (1819-1821) comprises two so-called flank casemates on the points of the half-moon. In the late 1930s, another fortified concrete casemate for machine guns and group shelter was added to back up the outdated brick flank casemates. A fallout shelter built during the Cold War was used as a command centre by the Dutch organisation for civil defence. Lunet I is currently a base for the musicians of BUI, the Platform for Improvised Arts.
> Koningsweg 290
In 1567, this plague house (a refuge for the city’s sick) was built with money from the estate of the late Agnes van Leeuwenberch. The building consists of a double-span room with several outbuildings. The French commandeered it in 1672, turning it into a military hospital. In 1844, it temporarily served as a physics laboratory until the building was taken over by the University’s Faculty of Pharmacology in 1908. Since then, it has been used as a church and concert hall. The interior was recently renovated according to a design by Studio Merkx.
> Servaasbolwerk 1A
Wolvenplein Prison, built on the Wolvenburg stronghold, dates from 1856. Before this, prisoners were kept in various city gatehouses and towers, such as the Plompetoren. New ideas about punishment, whereby isolation was thought to help criminals to repent, led to new types of prisons with individual cells. Wolvenplein Prison was designed in the shape of a cross by I. Warnsick and the public works engineer J. Fijnje. It was extended in 1877 and finally closed in 2014. The building has had several temporary tenants since.
> Wolvenplein 27
The Anatomy Building
The Veterinary Anatomical Institute, part of the National Veterinary School that used to be based on this site, was designed by Joseph Crouwel in 1918. If you look carefully, you’ll see similarities with his most famous design in Utrecht: the former post office on Neude. Crouwel worked with the sculptor H.A. van den Eijnde, who was responsible for the animal heads adorning both the inside and the outside of the building. The elevated dissection room on the north side was specially designed to create the best light and temperature for working on cadavers. This forgotten building underwent extensive renovations a few years ago, and is now used for courses and workshops.
> Bekkerstraat 141
On Saturday 12 September, over 40 special buildings in Utrecht will be open to visitors from 10:00 until 17:00. Check openmonumentendag.nl for an overview of the monuments taking part. If you want to visit a monument, you are required to book a time slot (of one hour) in advance on openmonumentendagutrecht.nl. Guided tours (most likely also in English) are available as well.