Castellum Lights

A Flamingo in Utrecht
The Domplein — the square in the heart of the city where you will find the Domtoren and the cathedral — has a long history. The square was originally the site of the Castellum Trajectum, the Roman fortress established nearly 2000 years ago to protect the northern border of the Roman Empire. The sign in the picture above marks where one of the entrance gates to the fortress was to be found.

In fact, they have found the foundations for the old fortress and you can see some visual depictions of what the fortress would have looked like through various apps now available. I think you also get to learn and see a bit more on the DomUnder tour (which I haven’t had a chance to take yet).

Still, you can get a sense of the size of the fortress due to some installations you’ll see in areas around the Domplein. The size starts to sink in when you realize it encompased the whole square and then some. The markers in the ground are bronze-ish metal pieces flush to the ground, with lines drawn in depicting various Roman Empire borders. They’re easy to miss, and even easier to puzzle over if you don’t know the meaning. It took me a few years to finally figure it out.
Hadrian's Wall
However, in the evening, they at least become a bit harder to miss. As part of the Trajectum Lumen displays, they light up and emit a watery mist every 15 minutes or so. The marker on Domstraat is pretty impressive, the way it lights up along one of the buildings and has the cathedral behind it.
Roman Walls [Day 126/365]
There’s another by the Academiegebouw, which I managed to capture once, years ago.
Roman Fortress
More recently, I finally caught the one on Servetstraat, in front of the Domtoren. It’s a cosy little street with a nice mix of shops and restaurants, all in the towering shadow of the Domtoren. Standing along any of the old fortress borders, it’s impossible not to look around and think of all the history this one small section of Utrecht has seen and experienced. And now we all become a little part of that long history.
Castellum Trajectum

All Roads Lead to Rome (and Utrecht)

Schatkamer | Domplein
The big news in Utrecht today is the recent discovery of a Roman road in the Domplein (cathedral square). Excavations going on in the square, as part of the development of a new permanent exhibit of the city’s history, have unearthed more than the old pillars and foundations of the churches that have stood on the spot since the 7th century.

It’s not a surprise that there would be a Roman road in the center of Utrecht. After all, it’s well known that the Romans set up a fort in what is now the Domplein in 47 AD. The area has been inhabited in one form or another ever since. Still, it’s exciting to find some of the actual remains, which will become part of the overall Schatkamer (Treasury) exhibit that opens in June 2014. Tours will be available, but the uncovered architecture and settlements will also be visible through a glass walkway over the structure in the ground of the Domplein. There are more than 5 meters worth of history to be explored.
Roman Empire BorderRoman Empire Border Marker

The Schatkamer will be a great addition to the already established markers throughout the square, signifying borders of the Roman Empire and the actual outlines — marked on the Domplein, in Domstraat, and in Servetstraat — of the original Roman fortress.
Hadrian's Wall
Markers like these can be found around the Domplein and light up at night as part of the Trajectum Lumen light display.
Roman Walls [Day 126/365]
A plaque marks the spot where the entrance gate to the Roman fort stood. It can be found behind the cathedral.
A Flamingo in Utrecht
Uncovering the Schatkamer
A photo taken earlier in the summer when the excavation was in its early stages (early enough to replace the flooring for an event that weekend).