Utrecht University Hall is the ceremonial and representative heart of Utrecht University. It is home to graduations, PhD defences and inaugural lectures and it is a house for debate, lecture and conference. Every year, University Hall attracts between one hundred and two hundred thousand visitors.
Union of Utrecht
The oldest part of the University Hall, the Aula, has existed since 1462. In 1579, the Union of Utrecht was signed here, considered the beginning of the Dutch state. In front of the University Hall, a statue of Count John of Nassau commemorates this event.
Utrecht University was founded in 1636 and was assigned the Aula. The university chose the aphorism Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos (Sun of Justice Illuminates Us) and a sun (Sol) as its symbol. The motto can be found on the sun globe on Domplein and in one of the sculpted relics on the facade.
In 1886, the university celebrated its 250th anniversary. The citizenry and the province decided to offer the university the University Hall. The new building had to meet the growing demand for spaces for teaching and academic ceremonies. Built between 1891-1894 in the Dutch Renaissance style under the master builders E. Gugel and F.J. Nieuwenhuis, the front of the University Hall was a gift from the residents of the city of Utrecht.
In 1924, the complex was extended with a new Senate Hall, where many professorial portraits hang.
In 1936, the university celebrated its 300th anniversary. To mark the occasion, former students donated globelins made by Willem van Konijnenberg and seven stained-glass windows made by Joep Nicolas, all of which have been given a place in the Auditorium/Aula.
Kink in the facade
The University Hall became the subject of some controversy: should it be built in neo-Renaissance style or adapted to the Gothic style of the Dom Church? It ended up being neo-Renaissance but with a compromise: the building had to be further away from the church than originally intended. This resulted in University Hall's strange kink in its facade.
The Anna Maria van Schurman bell
A special bell hangs in the Utrecht University Hall: the Anna Maria van Schurman bell. This bell was a gift from the Utrecht Bellringers Guild to Utrecht University for its 375th anniversary. The bell is named after Utrecht University's first female student: Anna Maria van Schurman.The bell is rung various times a year. For example, during:
Today, the building is used for academic ceremonies such as graduations, PhD defences and inaugural lectures. It also hosts conferences, meetings, dinners and cultural events.