The Netherlands

Climbing to the top of Utrecht’s Dom Tower!

The Dom Tower is our pride, the pride of the inhabitants of Utrecht! We love the church! Climbing the Dom Tower is a wonderful opportunity to explore the city of Utrecht in an entirely different way. In this article I will tell you why you should visit the Dom Tower in Utrecht, share my climbing experience to the top with you and tell you about my visit to the Dom Under and the medieval courtyard.

Highlights of visiting the Dom Tower in Utrecht:

  • Climb the 465 steps of the oldest and highest church tower in the Netherlands
  • Enjoy the impressive view over the city of Utrecht
  • Visit the chapels and admire the beautiful bells in the Dom Tower
  • Explore the Dom Under, an underground journey through 2000 years of Utrecht history
  • Visit the medieval courtyard

Why you should visit the Dom Tower in Utrecht

Once you are entering Utrecht the Dom Tower welcomes you. The church tower is already more than 600 years the symbol of Utrecht and is part of the Utrecht skyline. With its 465 steps and a length of 112 meters is the Dom Tower the highest church tower in the Netherlands. That’s cool right?!

The Dom Tower was originally part of the Cathedral of Saint Martin, also known as Dom Church. In 1674 a tornado destroyed a part of the cathedral (nowadays the Dom square) leaving the Dom Tower a free standing tower as it is today. During later restorations the height of the Dom Tower was increased to 112.5 meters where it stands mighty tall till present day. Because of the height you have an impressive view over the city of Utrecht. When it is bright enough you can also see Rotterdam!

The Dom Tower is in need of restoration work on the exterior, so in 2019 the scaffolding was raised around the tower. Despite the maintenance, you can still visit the tower and also climb it (no work will be done on the inside). They say it’s even better to visit the Dom Tower during the restoration process, because now you can climb to 100 meters instead of 95, higher than ever! They also built a temporary elevator, so you can currently skip the stairs if you would like to.

My climbing experience to the top of the Dom Tower in Utrecht

Accompanied by a guide, I climbed in a group all 465 steps to the top. First, I bought a ticket online and redeemed my ticket at the VVV store. All belongings (backpacks and jackets) had to be removed and stored in the free locker. Happily I obliged and was only armed with my GoPro and phone.

Then off we went across the street and got a quick introduction about the tower, the climb and some general rules. The guide told us that on the way up are 4 rest points, so enough moments to catch our breaths. Yeeh!

The first stop was at the St. Michaels Chapel (11 meters), which was a beautiful open room with burning candles, stained glass windows and a high ceiling. This room is nowadays used for receptions, weddings and parties.

Then we continued to the Egmond Chapel at a height of 25 meters. The tower guard took residence here with his family in a wooden house, built inside this room. The tower guard was responsible for the maintenance of the bells and the clockwork and kept the tower clean.

The third stop was at the ringing attic (49 meters), where 14 different sizes of bells were located. All of them together weigh over 31,000 kg and they are the heaviest set of bells in the Netherlands. The 7 oldest bells can be recognized by their clappers shaped as apple cores. The ringing of the complete set of bells only occurs a few times a year and need 26 people.

After that, we should have paused at a 17th-century Hemony carillon (80 meters), but we climbed directly to the top. Climbing the last section of stairs was tough. It was dark and narrow with long spiral stairs. There were no real handrails and the steps were very warm and a bit slippery. Once at the top (literally rooftop), we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Utrecht and the wider area.

The descent from the tower was quite daunting. It is dingy with a straight 465 steps down on some uneven stairs height.

Around the Dom Tower

Not only is the Dom Tower worth a visit, also the surroundings are beautiful! 

St. Martin’s Cathedral (Dom church) is located next to the Dom Tower. The interior is typical of Dutch churches and the entry is free. It’s definitely worth a visit!

The Dom Square is just in front of the church and its tower. Under this square you find DOMunder and see Archaeological finds. Before I climbed the Dom Tower I booked a tour at the DOMunder and learned about 2000 years of Utrecht history. The coolest thing was to go underground with a flashlight and see the excavations.

Another thing not to be missed is the Pandhof garden, a beautiful garden hidden between the Dom Church and Utrecht University Hall. The monastery garden is a wonderfully idyllic spot, filled with flowers and herbs. Believe it or not, this is one of the most beautiful courtyards you’ve ever seen.

On the other side of the Dom Tower you can find Utrecht’s famous Oude Gracht, but also Pandhof Sinte Marie. This garden is a remnant of the former Mariakerk (St. Mary’s Church) and also nice for a quick visit.

Contact details of the Dom Tower

Domplein 21
3512 JE Utrecht 
The Netherlands

Phone: +31 30 236 0010
Email: do******@ut**************.nl

Prices of climbing the Dom Tower

Hours: Noon to 5 pm daily
Cost: €10 for adults; €5 for children 4 to 12 years old.  The lift option is €17 per person.
Buy tickets: VVV Utrecht Office Domplein

My Dom Tower experience was definitely enriching. I was really impressed by the tour and the beautiful 360 degrees view. If you are planning to climb the Dom Toren, make sure you bring a jacket and wear proper footwear for the climb. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know!

Author: Daphne

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