Rietveld in Utrecht - A heritage cycle tour

Published on 18 April 2017 by Hilary Staples

The Rietveld Schröder House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com

The Rietveld Schröder House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of De Stijl (1917-1931) with a cycle tour through Utrecht, visiting locations associated with Dutch designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld, famous for his Red and Blue Chair and the Rietveld Schröder House.

2017 was declared the year of De Stijl (The Style) and a number of Dutch cities and museums are organising activities around artists and architects that belonged to this Dutch art movement. While Amersfoort and The Hague focus on Piet Mondrian and his work, Utrecht zooms in on Gerrit Rietveld who lived and worked in this city all his life.

The Centraal Museum will be organising several exhibitions around Rietveld. Also a new edition of Rietveld in Utrecht - A heritage cycle tour has come out. This 20 km-cycle tour takes you to 24 locations in Utrecht associated with Rietveld, from the house where he was born, places where he lived and worked and was buried to shopfronts and buildings designed by Rietveld. Is it a cycle tour for Rietveld enthusiasts, or is it a tour everyone might enjoy? At the beginning of April we went to Utrecht to find out.

Documentation

It is clear that a lot of work has gone into the guide guide book Rietveld in Utrecht - A heritage cycle tour that was published in collaboration with the Centraal Museum (see below). Not only does it provide a lot of background information on Rietveld and his work, the locations you'll be visiting and lots of photos, it's also the first cycle route I've come across that actually includes a literature list!

The book starts with a general introduction to Rietveld, telling the story of how the furniture maker became a famous architect. Great, as I knew little about Rietveld and why he was so important. I'm pleased I read this introduction beforehand, for it was an interesting read and greatly contributed to my appreciation of the route.

The book continues with detailed information on each of the 24 locations you visit along the route. The explanations with photos from Rietveld's time next to photos from the present day helped to bring the story of Rietveld in Utrecht to life and to see the buildings through different eyes.

There’s a route map on the inside cover. It gives you an overall idea of where the route will take you, but even with our extensive knowledge of Utrecht it was not a map we could use for navigational purposes. There are a set of instructions that take you from location to location. While the instructions themselves are clear and easy to follow, they are presented in such a way that they are hard to read while cycling - you’ll have to stop to read them. The authors are clearly not cyclists! We went on a tandem with the person on the back reading out the instructions - a fun solution!

Route

The cycle tour starts at the Centraal Museum, where visitors can borrow a bike for this tour. The route through the city is pleasant and generally avoids busy roads. To get to the Vreeburg cinema and apartment you have to walk through a pedestrian zone. Make sure you do get off your bike and walk here, or you will risk a fine.

The tour takes you past a number of the touristic highlights in the city centre, such as the Dom Tower and the Oudegracht. It also takes you to some of the green neighbourhoods outside the centre which most tourist never get to see, but which are also very nice. This makes the tour nice and varied.

Although the cycle tour is only 20 km, there is so much to see along the route that it took us half a day. This was without looking round the Centraal Museum or the Rietveld Schröder House. If you would like a shorter alternative, you could skip the last two locations (Rietveld’s residence and a block of houses in Robert Schumannstraat), they are all right, but not essential. This will save you several kilometres and give you more time for the museums (see below).

Conclusion

Do you need to be a Rietveld enthusiast to enjoy this cycle tour? We don’t think so. Even without any particular interest in Rietveld or architecture, it was a great experience.

The guide book is well made and good value for money. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and there are photo’s of every Rietveld building along the route. Thanks to the information that has clearly been written by Rietveld experts, the story of Rietveld and his work really comes to life.

Also, this tour has more to offer than just Rietveld. To get to the various locations, you cycle through a variety of neighbourhoods, showing you a side of Utrecht tourist usually don't get to see. We were once again pleasantly surprised how bike-friendly Utrecht has become in recent years!

For information on cycling in Utrecht and other cycle routes in the area, visit our Utrecht pages.

Click on one of the photos to start the slide show.

 

Rietveld in Utrecht - A heritage cycle tour

Route: Round trip starting at the Centraal Museum
Distance: 20 km
Shorter alternative: After the Oranjebrug, continue straight on along the Jutfaseweg and turn right into the Catharijnesingel from here you can follow the instructions in the book back to the Centraal Museum.
Guide book: Rietveld in Utrecht - A heritage cycle tour (Edition 2016)
ISBN: 978-94-6148-027-9
Published by Uitgeverij Matrijs
Also for sale at the Centraal Museum (€ 9,95)
Bike rental: The Centraal Museum has bikes you can borrow for this cycle tour
For other bike rental options, see: Bicycle rental in Utrecht
 
Do you have any questions or comments? We'd love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a message in our guest book or contact us at info@holland-cycling.com.