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As someone born and raised in Utrecht, I sympathize with the idea that central Utrecht is like a village. Sure, in the 19th century it started expanding, but if you look into the 1800 odd years of history before that everything happened within the Singels (outer canals). I love inviting friends from other countries over and showing them my town’s history and splendor.
EDIT: some info: this right here is the Nieuwegracht (New Canal) which, compared to the Oudegracht (Old Canal) is very quiet, and is mostly a residential area. Sadly, because of high house prices, these beautiful buildings are often bought by law firms and completely renovated from the inside. It’s one of my favorite parts of town!