Letters of Utrecht

Street of Words
If you walk along the western side of the Oudegracht, around the 300/400 block, you may notice a string of letters along the edge of the street. Look closer and you’ll realize the letters form words and sentences and an ever-growing poem.

One letter at a time, one Saturday at a time, the poem grows. As long as there are patrons to purchase a letter, the poem will continue. Each Saturday afternoon, around 13:00, you can head to Oudegracht 309 (or thereabouts) and see the latest letter being carved and installed.


Work in Progress
I’ve been meaning to stop by for a while, so since we were in the neighborhood last weekend anyway for Sinterklaas’ arrival, we headed down to see a bit of the latest letter being carved.

If you’re looking for a gift that’s a little bit different, yet surprisingly permanent, consider purchasing a letter for someone. They cost around €100, but €10 goes toward a charity and the rest mainly goes for costs. Each stone is also marked with a number so that the recipient/donor can easily tell which is their letter. The sponsor can also have their name or initials carved on the side of the stone, although that won’t be visible once the stone is in place.


The project officially began on June 2, 2012, but they retroactively added letters so that the poem officially began January 1, 2000. Seeing a fair chunk of the poem already in place surely makes it more intriguing and appealing and allows potential sponsors to better understand the project. If you’re interested in learning more, there’s an official website in Dutch and English. It also has information on how to sponsor your own letter. When I have a bit of disposable income someday, I’d love to have a letter of my own. It’s a nice way to leave a cultured mark on the city.

If you’re in town tomorrow afternoon — or any Saturday — don’t forget to go watch the newest letter being put in place. The S that we saw was the end of a word (langs) so a new word will be starting tomorrow. Of course, you can see the poem whenever you want simply by walking down that stretch of the Oudegracht.

If you like this post, or my blog in general, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a nice comment for me over at ExpatsBlog. We’re in the final stretch for the blog competition with only a few days left, so you won’t have to read my begging about it any more. Promise! I’ve been truly amazed by the many many kind comments so many of you have already left and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. [Now closed]

Saturday Show


19 thoughts on “Letters of Utrecht

  1. Fascinating! I was in Utrecht twice this year, and in July my wife and I dined on the Oudegracht, but I didn’t notice this project.

    I’ve liked Utrecht ever since I visited it as a child. Several relatives lived in the city, including my mother’s father, who lived in a large house on Stadhouderslaan. What I remember best is ascending to the top of the Dom tower and fancying I was able to see my home town, Baarn, in the distance. I was probably imagining it.

    • The potential permanence of it really is great, isn’t it. Wonderful to think of people walking along and reading the poem for decades or even centuries to come!

  2. Great story, wonderful pictures, thank you Alison! The next word starts with “D” – I’m off to see it now (and to have a coffee at ZiZo’s near the beginning of the poem)

    And Barbara, you’re right, Utrecht is becoming more fun by the post – and by the letter!

    • Thank you for such a wonderful project (and for the kind words you left about my blog). I hope my post encourages more people to see the poem and perhaps get their own letter.

  3. What I wonderful idea! I’ve never noticed the letters but I’m sure to check the poem out as soon as I’m in the neighbourhood . This is onde reason why I love Utrecht so much, the unexpected art projects that seem to pop up everywhere (that, plus guerilla rabbits in trees πŸ™‚

    • You can enjoy the rabbits and the poem all at the same time! I seem to always walk on the other side of the Oudegracht, which is why I’ve missed it in the past. I need to hang out on that side more often. There’s all sorts of fascinating things to see!

  4. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday: Letters van Utrecht | A Flamingo in Utrecht

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s