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Maastricht

Maastricht - with church

Maastricht, capital city of the province Limburg, has over 120,000 inhabitants and is a real tourist city. Yearly it attracts over 3 million tourists to the city. Explore the canals, walk through the inner city and eat one of Limurg’s famous pies. Or maybe have a look inside the Saint Peter’s Church or visit the limestone mines, Maastricht has a lot to offer.

The city is located in the southeast of the Netherlands.  It is located on both sides of the Meuse River, and is one of the oldest cities in the region, and is rich in history and cultural importance.

Historical Significance

While many may not have heard of Maastricht, most have heard of the European Union.  This union developed as the result of the Maastricht treaty which was signed in this city in 1992.  From this treaty resulted three things:

  • The Forming of the European Union
  • A European Citizenship
  • The European Currency, Call the Euro
City hall

City hall

 

What’s In a Name

The name of the city is actually derived from the Latin and essentially means “crossing at the Meuse” in reference to the bridge that was built by the Romans during the 1st century AD, during the reign of Claudius Caesar. Today a bridge still connects the two parts of the city on either side of the river.

There is some dispute as to whether it is indeed the oldest city in the Netherlands, but many ancient Roman maps clearly show that if not the oldest, it is certainly one of the most ancient.

History

By way of antiquities, human remains have been found in the area believed to date anywhere from 8,000 to 25,000 years old.

The city has had a truly multicultural influence throughout its history, and as a result has many different languages spoken there throughout time.

During WWII, the city quickly fell to the German forces, but was one of the first cities liberated by the Allies.  During the last part of the 20th Century, the city saw a shift in the economy from industry to service.  Maastricht University was founded there in 1972 and there are now many different European institutions of learning with locations within the city. This has lead to fast growing student population and a truly international demographic.

Maastricht - vrijthof sunset

Maastricht – vrijthof sunset

Sights and Sounds

While the city has undergone some tremendous changes throughout the years, many of the historical landmarks are still present and are a major part of the tourist attractions and economy.  Along with its antiquity, the city has also been working to remodel many of its districts, resulting in a city that is culturally, historically, and architecturally diverse.  It offers a mixture of the old with the promise of the new.  From shopping, sightseeing, or learning, this city truly offers something for everyone.  Be sure to include it on your itinerary on your next trip to the Netherlands.

Maastricht - The Basilica of Our Lady

Maastricht – The Basilica of Our Lady

Transportation in Maastricht

Maastricht is so close to Belgium that you could take an afternoon stroll to get there. If you travel only a little further you can also get to Germany. This has the advantage for tourists, that whether you are from France, Belgium, Germany or the UK , you are likely to find cafe and hotel staff able to speak your language.

Travel To Maastricht is, even by the high standards of the Dutch traveler, an easy place to get to.  It has its own small airport which has services from, Spain, Ireland, UK, Italy and Portugal. Although it has its own airport, many visitors to will arrive at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.  The easiest way to get from Amsterdam is by train, which takes about 3 hours. But, as it is so near, many visitors choose to take the option of traveling to Maastricht from Brussels airport in Belgium, which is about  2 and a half hours by train.

There are also European trains to to the city which go from Brussels  via Liege, where you can also change trains to go to London and Paris. There is a very good rail network in the Netherlands and you can get easy connections to and from anywhere in Holland for a very reasonable price. If you are traveling by car from Amsterdam, Belgium, or France you will need to get the A2 motorway.

Getting Around Maastricht

The city has an excellent bus system called Stadsbus that will get you anywhere in the city, with a minimum of effort. The best way to pay for your travel on the bus is the ov-chipcaart, which you buy from the station and top up with euros and then you just place the card on the card reader as you enter and exit the bus and it will automatically deduct the right amount of money from the card.

Taxis can be found at taxi ranks at the station and other well known locations throughout the city. If you want to book a taxi, you can do so by telephone:

  • Taxipoint  Maastricht +31 43 407 0008
  • Taxi Avantax Maastricht, +31 43 450 6464.

With much of the center of Maastricht being inaccessible by car, the bicycle is a very good option. They are very easy to get around with and can be hired very cheaply throughout the city.

Maastricht - devensive walls

Maastricht – defensive walls

Maastricht Tourism

There is plenty to see and do and lots of great architecture and, given its close proximity to Belgium and Germany, a great multicultural atmosphere. Its claim to be the oldest city in Holland is reflected in the wonderful buildings and squares that go to make up the streets of this fascinating city. Maastricht itself is actually in 2 half’s split by the picturesque river Maas.

Museums And Attractions

Derlon Museum Cellar is actually part of The Derlon Hotel. When the cellar of the hotel was excavated many Roman artefacts and pieces of architecture were found from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century. There is also a section of road which predates the Roman remains. Bonnefantenmuseum has a great exhibition of paintings by masters such as Rubens and Van Dyke and many other painters from that area of Europe. It also houses some great modern paintings and some wonderful sculpture. You will find it on the Avenue Ceramique 250 and it is closed on Mondays.

Natuurhistorisch Museum is a natural history museum that has some wonderful exhibitions on the  nature of the local area, spanning millions of years. It has some very good displays of different fossilized animals that are indigenous to the local and surrounding countryside. Saint Pietersberg Caves are the thousands of tunnels that were left behind by the Marlestone miners. This is a very interesting place to visit as well as having a practical use in wartime, as a shelter from air raids. More links of attractions can be found on the Dutch startpagina: http://maastricht.startpagina.nl/

Eating And Drinking

Harry’s is a very good informal restaurant that makes full use of local ingredients presented with an International twist. The setting is relaxed and the staff are courteous and friendly and, as is common in Maastricht, are able to converse in several European languages. Ristorante Mediterraneo is a wonderful Italian restaurant that serves, only the best, of Italian cuisine and fine dinning. The service is more relaxed, although precise, than you would generally expect at a restaurant of this quality and much more enjoyable for that. Being a top class establishment it is, of course, expensive. but if your funds will run to it, then this will be a very memorable meal.

Take One is a genuine beer lovers pub. Although it is only a very small bar, it has a great selection of beers, with each one being served at the right temperature for that type of beer. The bar is quite basic with not many stools and tables but a very good atmosphere.  Maastricht  is a great holiday destination for many different reason, but one thing is sure, that you will never be short of something to do there.

 

Maastricht - Castle Neercanne

Maastricht – Castle Neercanne