Utrecht is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a renowned medieval city center and an extremely well preserved set of canals. Construction of its central canal, de Oudegracht, started just after Utrecht was awarded ‘town privileges’ in 1122 AD, some buildings that still line this canal date back to the 13th century. Utrecht is often a bit in the shadow of Amsterdam being only 30 minutes away, but that leaves Utrecht relatively untouched by mass-tourism. This might be the reason why Utrecht was listed in the top-10 of ‘most unsung places of the world’ by Lonely Planet and the BBC in 2012. Utrecht has a population of 340.000, of which 20% is registered as a student at an institute for higher education – this attributes to the lively atmosphere in the city center. For more information visit: www.visit-utrecht.com
Utrecht University is a large (30.000 students) and diverse institute that houses many leading research groups in many different subjects. The main campus, de Uithof, is directly East of the city. The conference will be hosted in the Koningsberger building, a brand new educational building with well-equipped lecture halls. It is located directly across paleomagnetic laboratory Fort Hoofddijk, which is in the middle of the Botanic Gardens.
The paleomagnetic laboratory is housed in Fort Hoofddijk (1879 AD), a fort of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, an old defense system based on inundating low-lying parts of the Netherlands, hence creating a barrier to protect the Western part of the Netherlands against threats from the East and South. The main purpose of Fort Hoofddijk was gun-powder storage, therefore all iron was avoided during construction to eliminate the risks of sparks. This is what makes the building so excellently suited to house a paleomagnetic lab as the magnetic background variation is less than 1% compared to other, modern, buildings at the campus.