The other week, while attending the Lekker Utregs festival highlighting local produce, I was happy to see an exhibit set up showing old photos of past Utrechters buying and selling various produce. The exhibit was a collection of photos from Het Utrechts Archief, such as the one posted here. The photo shows fruit sellers at the Ganzenmarkt in 1890.
I found it interesting to see, since I haven’t seen any markets in that area since moving here, yet it was obvious from the name that there were once markets of some sort. In doing a bit of research, it looks like there was also a poultry market at some point. Unfortunately, I don’t know when they stopped setting up markets in this area, though.
Today, the newer construction of the Stadhuis replaces some of the older buildings seen on the left. Some of the buildings on the right remain the same, while a few have at least had a facelift, starting around Theater Kikker, although the corner building seems to have maintained it corner entrance. Now, though, it’s bikes, rather than stalls and horse-drawn carts, that fill the area.
It is believed that the Oudegracht, which lies at the end of the Ganzenmarkt, follows part of the original flow of the Rhine River. In fact, part of it may have originally run along what is now the Ganzenmarkt. Eventually, the flow was altered, replacing water with land. Since the Middle Ages, the Ganzemarkt has been the site of various important buildings, such as the Stadskasteel Compostel (Compostela town castle), and of course, the city hall square which runs along the street now.
Although not clearly visible in the old photo, in the newer photos, you can see the tunnel that runs from the street level down to the wharf level of the Oudegracht. The canal was used for transporting goods, so the tunnel, and a crane that stood at the end of the tunnel, helped move goods from ships to land. This tunnel is also the site of one of my favourite Trajectum Lumen installations, the rainbow-coloured tunnel.
As often as I’ve walked along the Ganzenmarkt (which runs from the Oudegracht to Minrebroederstraat), I never really contemplated the history of the spot. Thanks to the old photo of the fruit market, I’ve learned a tiny bit more about the city.