Different Donderdag: Going Postal

If you ever find yourself in the Netherlands with snail mail to post, look for one of these red boxes. This is the Dutch version of a mail box. One side will be for a specific postal code, i.e., local mail, and the other side is for everything else. These two boxes are located outside of the main post office here in Utrecht at the Neude, but you’ll find one of these boxes at random places around town. To be honest, it took me about a year to actually pay attention to them and realize what they were. Usually if I mail something, I need to go through the post office, so despite their vivid red color, I tended to be a bit oblivious to their purpose. After all, they do look quite a bit different from what I used to think of when I thought of public mail boxes. As for stamps (zegel), you can buy those at the post office, or more commonly, you can buy them at the grocery store and some other newsagent shops. During the month of December, they sell reduced-price stamps (decemberzegel) that can be used for standard mail for that month. TNT Post is the name of the royal Dutch postal service, so if you see TNT, don’t think dynamite; think mail.

Of course, when you’ve got a postkantoor (post office) like the one we have in Utrecht, why wouldn’t you want to visit it whenever possible! It’s an architectural dream! Look!
The soaring barrel-vault ceiling is truly awe inspiring and beautiful with the glass in between the ribs. It allows some of the natural light to come into the building, assisted with smaller, unobtrusive electrical lights.
Besides the impressively arching ceiling, one of the things most noticeable about the interior design is the series of carved figures located throughout the large room.
The five figures represents the continents, with other figures representing prosperity, commerce, and the postal service itself. There’s even an olifant!
The building was designed by Joseph Crouwel in the Amsterdam School style of architecture. It was completed in 1924. Some of the trademarks of the Amsterdam School that are visible in the Postkantoor include extensive use of brick, organic, rounded shapes, glasswork, and integrated architectural sculptures. If you’re in Utrecht, it’s definitely worth a visit, although if you’re going to take photos, try to be as unobtrusive as possible. They tend to tell you to stop if they notice you, especially if you’re taking photos of the workers themselves.

The Post Office

13 thoughts on “Different Donderdag: Going Postal

  1. WOW you have a fantastic post office! You know what drives me nuts? the fact that they do not pick up mail!! However I just discovered we have a red mailbox one street over so thats a huge plus..lol

    • It really is gorgeous, isn’t it. I used to go to a pretty nice one when I lived in Manhattan, but it was nothing compared to this. Fortunately, my time in Manhattan did at least get me used to the idea of mail not being picked up at home.

    • If anything, it’s become even more empty since I first moved here, and less useful, as well. A shame, really. I understand that they’re closing more and more post offices; I’m still not sure if this one will ultimately be closed too. Perhaps they should close it if they can find someone who could do more with the building.

  2. This building looks great 😀
    The main postoffice in Rotterdam on the Coolsingel looks brilliant on the outside. Never been in, maybe I should pay a visit sometime!
    So didn’t they tell you to stop taking pictures then?

    • I was with a friend and we got quite a few photos taken. It wasn’t until we’d been there for a while that someone finally noticed us and at that point said no photos. We were pretty much done then anyway.

  3. I always wonder which area the specified area codes are for because I’ve never had to use them. Every letter I’ve ever sent here I’ve had to put in the ‘other’ section.

  4. The post office surely looks imposing. I kind of figured the post box out in the first few weeks itself but strangely I used to go to the post office to post letters. Its been only sometime now that I use the boxes 🙂

  5. Oh the Postkantoor! :o) It’s a very impressive building. I had no idea it was so interesting inside so thank you for suggesting this visit!
    (next time I’ll behave! hehe)

  6. I’m not sure if leaving comments to old posts is pointless or not, but here you go: I recently heard that the beautiful postoffice on Neude is going to be converted into something else. I think a fancy restaurant and/or hotel, but I’m not sure. So I went in and took some pics mself, before the interior gets changed!

    • The comments aren’t pointless, since I still see them and enjoy them! I knew the post office was closing, too, and like many people in the area, I went in to get some more photos one last time before they closed. I posted them that last week it was open, I believe. The last I heard, the building is going to be a mix of shopping/hotel/restaurant. Whatever it is, I hope they keep as much of the beautiful interior as possible.

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