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


Utrecht on a Saturday Morning

We were up and out early this morning — to the point that we were home by 9:30am — but I snapped a few shots along the way and thought I’d share a few sights from our morning outing. As I mentioned previously, yesterday was Dodenherdenkingdag (Remembrance Day) here in the Netherlands, so it was no surprise to see the statue of Anne Frank that stands in Janskerkhof adorned with flowers. She usually has at least one bunch of flowers, especially on Saturdays, since she stands next to the flower market, but there were many more this particular morning.

Slagerij to Swatch

We were headed to the Saturday market at Vredenburg to pick up some fish and along the way I noticed this building. It was the old signage that particularly caught my eye. The building obviously used to be a butcher’s shop (slagerij) selling rund, kalfs en varkens (beef, veal and pork). Now it’s about to become a Swatch store.

3D Pop-Up Utrecht

Next to the Vredenburg market is the Hoog Catharijne, a gigantic mall. They recently opened up a pop-up expo featuring 3D photos of old Utrecht. The stores in the mall weren’t open yet, but it turned out that we could take advantage of the expo, since they had the “glasses” printed on the windows so you could peer through and see the photos. There’s a larger, full expo at the Utrechtse Archief, which I’d like to go see.
Utrecht in 3D

We also saw some guard dogs (the hondenbrigade) at Neude, where they’ve set up some strange buildings, but my photos didn’t turn out that well. Does anyone know what that hodgepodge of buildings in Neude is? It seems a bit early for the Festival a/d Werf.