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Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory

Zonnenburg 2
3512 NL Utrecht
T: (030) 820 1420


Discover the secrets of Sonnenborgh. Go behind the thick walls of the 16th Century Bastion to search for cannon emplacements. Climb the stairs up to the 19th Century telescope domes and gaze at the stars. Imagine yourself as a meteorologist and carry out exciting weather experiments or take a close up view of the Sun with the aid of a special solar telescope. The observatory and meteorological institute were established in 1854 on top of the old Sonnenborgh bastion which dates back to 1552. Scientists conducted research into the weather, the stars and planets, as well as time measurement. Today Sonnenborgh is both a museum and an observatory, and there is still a great deal to see and do.

Experience the special history of a Utrecht bastion. Return to the 16th Century and seek out the canon emplacements in the casemates behind three metre thick walls. Take a peek into the old well, utilised as a latrine in the 16th Century. From 1998 to 2003 these fortifications were intensively studied and restored. Following the construction of the Zocher gardens in around 1840, a large portion of the bastion was buried underground. The entry gate was the first structure to be brought to light. The archaeologists then made further significant finds, such as a chemistry laboratory dating back to around 1700AD. Of all the bastions in Utrecht, Sonnenborgh has remained the best preserved. Even in comparison with other North European examples, it is in exceptionally good condition. Take a stroll past the unique spots of this 16th Century bastion and become acquainted with its long hidden secrets.

Sonnenborgh is the oldest cupola observatory in the Netherlands. There are four large telescopes with which to study the universe. Until 2002, the Merz Telescope from 1863 was the most important (night) telescope in the observatory. This instrument was one of the largest of its kind in the world. Today the computer-controlled Gala Telescope is the primary night telescope here. Activities include star viewing evenings, courses and special lectures. Come and take a look at the Moon and planets for yourself and pick out almost invisible gas nebulas.