Last updated
Gemeentehuis NS-station Houten nederland.JPG
Town hall and station in Houten
Flag of Houten.svg
Houten wapen.svg
Coat of arms
Map - NL - Municipality code 0321 (2009).svg
Location in Utrecht
Coordinates: 52°2′N5°10′E / 52.033°N 5.167°E / 52.033; 5.167 Coordinates: 52°2′N5°10′E / 52.033°N 5.167°E / 52.033; 5.167
Country Netherlands
Province Utrecht
  Body Municipal council
   Mayor Gilbert Isabella (PvdA)
  Total58.99 km2 (22.78 sq mi)
  Land55.41 km2 (21.39 sq mi)
  Water3.58 km2 (1.38 sq mi)
2 m (7 ft)
 (January 2019) [3]
  Density901/km2 (2,330/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code 030
Website www.houten.nl

Houten (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɦʌutə(n)] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a municipality in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht.


Population centres

The municipality consists of the following towns:

Houten (town)

The main town in the municipality is Houten, a commuter town about 9 km southeast of Utrecht. On 1 January 2020, the town had 50.177 inhabitants (municipality). The built-up area was 5.08 km2 (1.96 sq mi) in area, and contained 20,010 residences in 2018. The slightly larger statistical district of Houten had a population of about 39,100 in 2004. [4]

History of Houten

Historical map of Houten Houten.png
Historical map of Houten

Remains of a Roman villa have been found in the old centre of Houten, made visible in a street pattern. There used to be a Roman villa on that spot. This building was discovered in the fifties. In the Dark Ages Houten took shape as a rural centre. The area of the municipality of Houten was divided in the so-called 'gerechten' (districts). The names of these districts are still in use: Schonauwen, Wulven, Waijen, Heemstede.

A lot of elements in present-day Houten are reminders of its history. Prominent in the old centre 'Het Oude Dorp' are the Roman Catholic Church (1884) and the Protestant Church (1563). The first accounts of this church date from the ninth century, the oldest parts of the church are probably from the eleventh century. Another prominent building is the restaurant/cafe 'De Engel', already mentioned in the 16th century as a tavern. [5]

Former access roads to the old centre are still recognisable by their names, such as the 'Odijkseweg' and 'Loerikseweg'. Houten had many orchards, but few have survived.

The expanding city 1966–1998

Modern Houten started to take shape in the last decades of the 20th century (1966–1998). It was first designated by the office of Wissing-Derks as a 'Groeikern' – a centre of growth – to meet the needs of the growing city of Utrecht. From the beginning urban planner-designer Robert Derks was involved with the development of the New Town Houten. In 1979 the construction of 10,000 dwellings started and the population grew from 4,000 to more than 30,000 late in the nineties.

Dutch Topographic map of Houten (town), March 2014 Houten-plaats-OpenTopo.jpg
Dutch Topographic map of Houten (town), March 2014

Second designation as a centre of urban growth 1992–2015

Until 2015, some 7,000 new houses are being built in Houten-Zuid, following the same urban design principles as the existing Northern part of Houten, but with some differences. The body of water to the east is large in comparison with water bodies in the old parts of Houten. The pentagonal green zone in Houten-Zuid embracing the centre is different from the greenzone in Houten-Noord, which runs through the whole city in a linear structure, crossing the new city centre and with larger parks at either end. Another difference is that in some places cars share the road with bicycle paths (this concept was later applied in the northern part as well). The southern part was also designed by Robert Derks and his office for urban design Stedebouw BV.



Houten has two railway stations, Houten (opened in 1868, closed in 1934, re-opened on a different location in 1982 and restructured in 2010) and Houten Castellum (opened in 2010). These stations are served by local commuter trains to Utrecht (northbound) and Geldermalsen (southbound, with subsequent connections to Tiel and 's-Hertogenbosch/Breda). The railway has been doubled from two tracks to four, to accommodate for an extra stop at Castellum with a frequency of four trains per hour in each direction.


Busses travel to regional destinations, such as Nieuwegein and Utrecht.


Like most Dutch cities, Houten is well adapted to the high number of cyclists. Unlike other cities Houten is built around a system of car free public space combined with the infrastructure for slow traffic. The design principle of separating cycling and walking from car traffic has been pushed to the limit. Houten is unique in this. Cycling comfort and safety are extremely high (optimal), even by Dutch standards. A large network of bike paths makes it convenient to cycle to various destinations and within the town the bike is the most popular means of transport.

On October 29, 2008, Houten was chosen as Fietsstad 2008 — the top BikeCity of the Netherlands for 2008. [6] The same happened on January 16, 2018, when Houten was praised for its best all round cycling characteristics and again voted the best Fietsstad 2018 — the nations top BikeCity for 2018. Since the first bicycle city election (held every two years) in 2002 Houten is the only one that managed to win the title twice. The city of Houten is known as, nationally and internationally, and in growing interest from home and abroad, as the worlds best practical example for bicycle friendliness. A growing number of groups with politicians, developers, designers and students visit cycling city Houten for study purposes and inspiration.


To the west, Houten has its own exit from the A27 motorway, and the N409 (single carriageway with bus lane) runs from Houten to Nieuwegein. To the east and south, there are only local roads, not designed for through traffic. A connection to the A12 motorway to the north is the N421 (single carriageway).

The only way to get from one district to another is via the ring road which circles around Houten, thus preventing through traffic in residential areas. Maximum speed on most of the ring road is 70 km/h (43 mph) [7]

Urban planning and architecture

Sustainable urban design

Houten is internationally known for its urban design. Because of the city structure, people are encouraged to travel by bike and train. Distinctive qualities of Houten include the accessibility of the railway station, green and water zones throughout the whole city, numerous soccer and basketball fields, high standard of accommodation for different groups and the child-friendly bicycle paths. It is one of the safest cities in the Netherlands. Cyclists and cars are able to avoid each other: an extensive network of bicycle tracks connects the different districts of the town, while cars have to go to the city ring road before they can go to another part of the city.

Thomas House is a small-scale housing complex in Houten for adults with intellectual disabilities, opened in 2013. [8]

Remarkable buildings in Houten

Famous people from Houten

Chriet Titulaer, 1984 Chriet Titulaer.png
Chriet Titulaer, 1984

Related Research Articles

Transport in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is both a very densely populated and a highly developed country, in which transport is a key factor of the economy. Correspondingly it has a very dense and modern infrastructure, facilitating transport with road, rail, air and water networks. In its Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-2015, the World Economic Forum ranked the Dutch transport infrastructure fourth in the world.

Utrecht (province) Province of the Netherlands

Utrecht is a province of the Netherlands. It is located in the centre of the country, bordering the Eemmeer in the north-east, the province of Gelderland in the east and south-east, the province of South Holland in the west and south-west and the province of North Holland in the north-west and north. The province of Utrecht has a population of 1,353,596 as of November 2019. With an area of approximately 1,449 square kilometres (559 sq mi) of which 69 square kilometres (27 sq mi) is water, it is the smallest of the twelve Dutch provinces. Apart from its eponymous capital, major cities in the province are Amersfoort, Houten, Nieuwegein, Veenendaal, IJsselstein and Zeist. The busiest railway station in the Netherlands, Utrecht Centraal, is located in the province of Utrecht.

Utrecht City and municipality in the province of Utrecht, Netherlands

Utrecht is the fourth-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, in the very centre of mainland Netherlands; it had a population of 357,179 as of 2019.

Wageningen Municipality in Gelderland, Netherlands

Wageningen is a municipality and a historic town in the central Netherlands, in the province of Gelderland. It is famous for Wageningen University, which specialises in life sciences. The municipality had a population of 38,774 in 2019, of which many thousands are students from over 150 countries.

Culemborg City and municipality in Gelderland, Netherlands

Culemborg is a municipality and a city in the centre of the Netherlands. The city has a population of 28,555, and is situated just south of the Lek river. Direct train lines run from the railway station towards the cities of Utrecht and Den Bosch.

IJsselstein City and Municipality in Utrecht, Netherlands

IJsselstein is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht. IJsselstein received city rights in 1331. IJsselstein owes its name to the river Hollandse IJssel which flows through the city. It is a major commuting suburb for the Utrecht area, along with neighbouring towns Houten and Nieuwegein. It's surrounded by the municipalities of Utrecht, Montfoort, Lopik, Vijfheerenlanden and Nieuwegein.

Nieuwegein Municipality in Utrecht, Netherlands

Nieuwegein[ˌniʋəˈɣɛi̯n](listen) is a municipality and city in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is bordered on the north by the city of Utrecht, the provincial capital. It is separated from Vianen to the south by the river Lek and borders on IJsselstein in the southwest and Houten in the east.

Schoonhoven City and former municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Schoonhoven is a city and former municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. Since 2015 it has been a part of the municipality of Krimpenerwaard.

Randstad Megalopolis in Netherlands

The Randstad is a megalopolis in the central-western Netherlands consisting primarily of the four largest Dutch cities and their surrounding areas. Among other things, it contains the Port of Rotterdam, the Port of Amsterdam, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. With a population of 8.2 million people it is one of the largest metropolitan regions in Europe, comparable in population size to the Milan metropolitan area or the San Francisco Bay Area, and covers an area of approximately 8,287 km2 (3,200 sq mi). With a population density of 1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi) it also is one of the most important and densely populated economic areas in northwestern Europe. It encompasses both the Amsterdam metropolitan area and Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area.

Bike path Bikeway separated from motorized traffic and dedicated to cycling or shared with pedestrians or other non-motorized users

A bike path is a bikeway separated from motorized traffic and dedicated to cycling or shared with pedestrians or other non-motorized users. In the US a bike path sometimes encompasses shared use paths, "multi-use path", or "Class III bikeway" is a paved path that has been designated for use by cyclists outside the right of way of a public road. It may or may not have a center divider or stripe to prevent head-on collisions. In the UK, a shared-use footway or multi-use path is for use by both cyclists and pedestrians.

Bicycle boulevard street that is designed as a bicycle route, but on which cars are also allowed

A bicycle boulevard, sometimes referred to as a neighborhood greenway, neighborway, neighborhood bikeway or neighborhood byway is a type of bikeway composed of a low-speed street which has been "optimized" for bicycle traffic. Bicycle boulevards discourage cut-through motor-vehicle traffic but allow local motor-vehicle traffic. They are designed to give priority to bicyclists as through-going traffic. They are intended as a low-cost, politically popular way to create a connected network of streets with good bicyclist comfort and/or safety.

Schalkwijk, Utrecht Village in Utrecht, Netherlands

Schalkwijk [ˈsxɑɫkʋɛik] is a small village in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It consists of a small village centre on the railway line between Utrecht and 's-Hertogenbosch and a 5 km long ribbon of farms along the small channel Schalkwijksche Wetering.

Cycling in the Netherlands cyclist activity in the Netherlands

Cycling is a common mode of transport in the Netherlands, with 36% of the people listing the bicycle as their most frequent mode of transport on a typical day as opposed to the car by 45% and public transport by 11%. Cycling has a modal share of 27% of all trips nationwide. In cities this is even higher, such as Amsterdam which has 38%, though smaller Dutch cities well exceed that: for instance Zwolle has 46% and the university town of Groningen has 31%. This high frequency of bicycle travel is enabled by excellent cycling infrastructure such as cycle paths, cycle tracks, protected intersections, ample bicycle parking and by making cycling routes shorter, quicker and more direct than car routes.

Utrecht Centraal railway station railway station in the Netherlands

Utrecht Centraal is the transit hub that integrates two bicycle parkings, two bus stations, two tram stops and the central railway station for the City of Utrecht in the Province of Utrecht, Netherlands.

Houten Castellum railway station railway station in the Netherlands

Houten Castellum is a railway station located in Houten, Netherlands, which opened at 8 January 2001 and it is located on the Utrecht–Boxtel railway. Originally it was the southernmost point of the Houten - Houten Castellum tram line. This temporary service closed at 14 December 2008. The services are operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen. During this time the service was operated by a tram from Hannover on loan to Nederlandse Spoorwegen, operated by HTM. After closure of the tram line due to construction of a new station and expanding of the railway to 4 tracks, the tram service was replaced by a bus service. The new station opened at 12 December 2010 and bus service ceased. All local trains call at Houten Castellum at the center platform along the inner tracks, while Intercity services and cargo trains use the outer tracks.

Bicycle parking station

A bicycle parking station is a building or structure designed for use as a bicycle parking facility. Such a facility can be as simple as a lockable bike cage or shed or as complex as a purpose-built multi-level building: the common purpose is that they provide secure bicycle parking. Bicycle parking stations also go by names such as bike stations, bicycle centers and cycle centers, among many others.

Cycling in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is well known for being bicycle friendly. Nevertheless, though people outside of the Netherlands consider Amsterdam to be one of the most famous and important centres of bicycle culture worldwide, the city itself is actually not at the top in terms of bike-friendliness compared to many smaller Dutch cities. This is reflected in the fact that Amsterdam is not on the short-list for the Fietsstad 2014 awards, announced by the Dutch Fietsersbond : the cities of The Hague, Eindhoven and Almere were nominated for the Fietsstad 2014 awards, while the Netherlands' most bicycle-friendly city of Groningen won the award back in 2001. It should be made clear that for bicycle-friendliness, one must consider the Netherlands as whole. Meanwhile Amsterdam is also struggling with 44% of all cyclists feeling unsafe and a relatively high number of cycle fatalities.

Utrecht sneltram Rapid transit railway in Utrecht, Netherlands

The Utrecht sneltram is a light rail system in the Dutch city of Utrecht. The system consists of 3 lines. Lines 60 and 61, connect Utrecht Centraal railway station with the residential areas of Lombok and Kanaleneiland and the suburbs Nieuwegein and IJsselstein. Line 22 connects Utrecht Centraal to the Uithof district.

Cycling infrastructure facilities for use by cyclists

Cycling infrastructure refers to all infrastructure which may be used by cyclists. This includes the same network of roads and streets used by motorists, except those roads from which cyclists have been banned, plus additional bikeways that are not available to motor vehicles, such as bike paths, bike lanes, cycle tracks and, where permitted, sidewalks, plus amenities like bike racks for parking and specialized traffic signs and signals. Cycling modal share is strongly associated with the size of local cycling infrastructure.

Bike freeway A bikeway with high design parameters, enabling high travel speeds.

A bike freeway, also known as a cycling superhighway, fast cycle route or bicycle highway, is an informal name for a bicycle path that is meant for long-distance traffic. There is no official definition of a bicycle highway. The characteristics of a cycle motorway mentioned by authorities and traffic experts include an absence of single-level intersections with motorized traffic, a better road surface and the absence of traffic lights. Bicycle highways are mentioned in connection with traffic jam. Due to higher average speeds than normal cycling infrastructure, they should be an alternative for the car in commuter traffic. Often a cycle motorway follows the route of a railway.


  1. "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  2. "Postcodetool for 3995DW". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  3. "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  4. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), Gemeente Op Maat 2004: Houten [ permanent dead link ].
  5. Houten te voet of the fiets, publication by the municipality of Houten (2001)
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2018-12-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. Gemeente Houten – Veelgestelde vragen over verkeer Archived 2012-12-20 at Archive.today (in Dutch, frequently asked questions about traffic)
  8. "Foto's: Koningin Máxima bezoekt Thomashuis in Houten". Archived from the original on 2013-06-09. Retrieved 2013-06-28.