Traces of Slavery in Utrecht

'Utrecht - she is the pearl of Europe'
‘Utrecht – she is the pearl of Europe’

Of course you’ll want to climb the Dom Tower and visit the exquisite museums, but this city walk is an alternative if you want to explore the Netherland’s fourth largest city. The walk of about 7 km will take you through Utrecht’s medieval town centre and tell you about the town’s historical connections with slavery and colonialism. Some Utrechters (inhabitants of Utrecht) have played a significant role in the abolishment of slavery (1863) whereas others, earning big money with slavery and slaves trade, contributed to the enrichment of Utrecht.

utrecht citywalk

During the 16th-19th century, this seafaring country played a major role in the trans Atlantic trade of African slaves, even though slavery was prohibited in the Netherlands itself. This walk unveils well hidden details related to slavery, such as the man sitting on four chained slaves and the “Moor head” on the gravestone of a traders family. At the same time, you’ll marvel at Utrecht’s charming streets and impressive historic buildings. An uneasy contrast: the dark history of colonialism and slavery against the wealth created by it.

Directions: Download the mobile app 7Scenes and open in the ‘Scenes’ menu the ‘Traces of Slavery in Utrecht’ scene by Kosmopolis. Clicking on ‘Kaart’ shows the the locations of interest pinpointed on the map of Utrecht. You need to download the files with information of the locations. Hit ‘Start’ and commence the walk. Once you approach a location the app will automatically open a small screen with information and pictures. Make sure the GPS location services of your telephone are switched on (otherwise open the information screens manually). Basically, you can explore all locations in any order you want, but we tried to make a nice loop of it. We recommend to start at the Jacobi church and walk our track clockwise. The entire walk takes 2-3 hours.

utrecht slavery

Note: The app requires one time registration to be able to download the walk. The Dutch version of the route has recorded anecdotes, so bring headphones for this version. Saturday afternoon is a good timing for this hike, as churches along the route will open their doors to visitors.


  • Costs: FREE
  • Address: Jacobi church, Sint Jacobsstraat 171, Utrecht (52.095077,5.114752).
    10 min walk from train station Utrecht Centraal.
  • More info: Sporenvanslavernijutrecht.nl (in Dutch)
  • Bring: 7Scenes app (for iPhone and Android) and headphone (Dutch guide only)
  • Wikiloc: Traces of Slavery track

 

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