This is hardly the best photo of Utrecht that I’ve ever taken, but I love what it represents. There’s a group on Flickr called This Is Europe, and it’s meant to show the reality of life in Europe, not just the typical postcard shots. For me, this photo fits the bill.
Sure, there’s the Domtoren rising up in the background, and the spire of the Willibrordkerk, and a university building dating back to 1834, but those buildings are all a part of normal life here. The reality is that we pass these buildings often enough that it can be easy to take their hundreds of years of history for granted. I’m reminded of an Eddie Izzard sketch, in which he jokes about Americans thinking that people in Europe all live in castles. He quips that, “It’s true! We do all live in castles. Sometimes I long for a bungalow.” I think that sums up the reality of having so many historic buildings all around you that you almost don’t notice them at times.
On the other hand, equally representative of life here in ancient Utrecht are the banners for the Holland Animation Film Festival. This is an annual festival held here in Utrecht every year. The best and brightest show off their animation work, often using the latest in technical advancements to create amazing works of animation.
So this is Utrecht to me. A combination of approximately 2000 years of history that is still growing and developing and branching out into new ideas and forms of art and culture. Utrecht is a vibrant, living city, not a relic or museum. This is modern Europe; this is modern Utrecht.