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Utrecht's ancient city-centre features many buildings and structures from its earliest origins onwards. It has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the eighth century CE. Currently it is the see of the Archbishop of Utrecht, the most important Dutch Roman Catholic leader. Utrecht is also the see of an archbishop of the Old Catholic church, and the location of the offices of the main protestant church. Up till the golden age Utrecht was the city of most importance in the northern Netherlands (the present-day country of the Netherlands, excluding Belgium and Luxembourg), until Amsterdam became the cultural and populous centre of the Netherlands.
Utrecht is host to Utrecht University, the largest university of the Netherlands, as well as several other institutes for higher education. Due to its central position within the country it is an important transportation hub (rail and road) in the Netherlands. It has the second highest number of cultural events in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam.