The origins of the city
The Dutch city of Utrecht was founded 2000 years ago by the Romans, with the construction of a fort, a so-called castellum, which is part of the Lower Germanic Limes. The remains of the castellum lie four metres under Domplein, a square that now lies in the heart of the city under the famous Domtoren. The Domplein Square Foundation aimed to make this Roman past of the city of Utrecht visible and tangible. The project includes a visitor centre on the Domplein Square, tours and events, and a marking of the Roman castellum wall to a design by OKRA that has made the city’s origins visible.
Small intervention, great significance
The design consists of a small intervention with great significance. The underground castellum wall is marked in the street plane by a single line of corten steel elements, directly above the original Roman wall. Coloured light and patches of mist emanate from the marking, and parts of the borders of the Roman Empire are engraved in the steel. The smoke intensifies into a fog curtain on special occasions and holidays, making the transition to Dom Square even more dramatic. In rain or foggy weather and after dark, the line is even more visible.
By placing the markings, the former castellum has become visible again. People in the city can see it, walk on it and touch it. It increases the awareness of the rich history of the city. The construction of the marker has proved to be a vital impulse for the entire area surrounding Domplein Square. In 2021, the whole Lower Germanic Limes has been placed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO.