A Province Of The Netherlands, bounded N. by North Holland and the Zuyder Zee, E. by Gelderland, S. by Gelderland and South Holland, and W. by South Holland; area, 534 sq. m.; pop. in 1873, 179,465. The surface is level in the north and west, and varied in the southeast by low hills. It is well watered by the Rhine, and its branches the Vecht and Amstel. The air is less damp than in other parts of the Netherlands, and the climate is generally healthful. In the elevated parts the soil is sandy, and covered by extensive heaths and tracts of peat moors, but the low grounds are rich and fertile.
A City, capital of the province, on the Crooked Rhine, which here divides into the Vecht and the Old Rhine, the principal branch assuming the latter name, 20 m. S. E. of Amsterdam; pop. in 1875, 64,275, about one third Roman Catholics. It is surrounded by forts, but the old ramparts are now used as boulevards. The mall, in the E. part of the city, is an exceedingly fine promenade. There are several canals and attractive squares, and many families of the Dutch aristocracy reside here. It has more than 20 churches, besides three cathedrals. Of the latter, the Reformed St. Martin's is the most remarkable for its fine Gothic architecture, and has seven chapels filled with monuments. Part of it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1674, and the tower is still detached from the main building. The government offices are in the so-called pope's house, built by Pope Adrian VI., who was born here (1459), in a house still standing. The once celebrated St. Paul's abbey is used for courts of law. Among other notable buildings are the national mint, a palace for arts and sciences, one formerly inhabited by King Louis Bonaparte, the renovated town hall, a large military hospital established by Napoleon I., and the William's barracks.
The university, dating from 1636, is attended by about 500 students; among its adjuncts are a new physiological museum, a botanic garden, and a large library. Cigars, cotton, silk, linen, woollen cloth, carpets, and plush (Utrecht velvet) are made, and there are many publishing houses. Drinking water is shipped to Amsterdam. The city is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop and the old headquarters of the Jansenists, whose resident archbishop and whole congregation of 5,000 members joined the Old Catholics in 1874. - Utrecht is the oldest of all Batavian cities. The Romans called it Trajectum ad Rhenum and Ultrajectum; from the latter the modern name is derived. It belonged successively to the Frankish dominions and the German empire, and the union which laid the foundation of the republic of the seven United Provinces was organized here in 1579. The treaty of Utrecht,'signed April 11, 1713, after long conferences, by the representatives of France, Great Britain, Holland, Prussia, Portugal, and Savoy, and subsequently completed by the peace of Rastadt (1714) and other treaties, formed an important era by ending the Spanish war of succession.
By it Philip V., grandson of Louis XIV., was acknowledged as king of Spain; the Spanish Netherlands, Naples, Milan, and the island of Sardinia were left in the possession of the emperor Charles VI.; Sicily was given to Victor Amadeus II. of Savoy; and England obtained Gibraltar, Minorca, the Hudson Bay territories, Newfoundland, and Acadia, besides the recognition of the Protestant succession. (See Le traite d'Utrecht, by Charles Giraud, Paris, 1847).