Visiting Maastricht was just by random chance this trip, despite being a city on my bucket list to visit. My Maastricht visit resulted due to needing to stay at the cheapest dog-friendly hotel in The Netherlands. We chose the Hotel Vue just outside of the city.
The Limberg City had been on my radar for 2 reasons before researching what to see and do.
Reason 1 was the connection to Andre Rieu the greatest showman I have ever seen in the classical music field. I have enjoyed working and relaxing while listening to his music for years. His Maastricht videos had caught my eye a few times and looked a great place.
Reason 2, the cities political significance for the European Union where the Maastricht Treaty was signed. This was a treaty signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Communities in the city. The purpose of the treaty was to further European integration. Possibly one of the many causes of Brexit from my listenings. The city has a few memorials significant to this. I felt I had to see before the UK left the union later in the month.
Maastricht is located in the Limburg area of The Netherlands towards the south of the country. The River Meuse/Maas runs through the city and is a stunning sight. The area outside of the city is the hilliest region of the country.
Getting To Maastricht
I travelled into the city on a regional train from Sint Gerlach which was a quick journey into Maastricht Station. Lots of trains run via and to Maastrict station so I easy for people to arrive on an interrail journey. Maastricht Aachen Airport is a regional airport with flights from Amsterdam and Eindhoven if you wish to fly.
My Tour of The City
I arrived at the central train station on a foggy morning to be greeted with some inviting streets. These were lined with unfamiliar shops, bikes and a few statures on street corners.
I then explored this side of the river to find the 1992 plaque that was located at Plein 1992. Plein 1992 is a town square where the treaty is celebrated.
Stars of Europe
I then headed down the footpath on the east bank of the River Meus heading towards the other EU monument in the city. The Stars of Europe is located on a roundabout to the southern end of the city, a short walk through Charles Eyck Park. This was a very misty day so didn’t see the stars in all their glory, but I satisfied my need to see them.
Next was a walk back into towards the central areas again. I walked hoping the mist cleared so I could take in the sights and take a photograph or 2. The river Meuse looked very mysterious with visibility very limited. The first significant building I come across was the Bonnefanten museum which was very photogenic against the mist.
The Bonnefanten is an art museum with a stunning domed tower. It is used for temporary art shows and has medieval & contemporary collections on show. https://www.bonnefanten.nl/
Further upstream I passed some riverside fortifications known as Recentoren, a remnant of the Medieval city wall of Wyck. This was an interesting medieval artefact that would on a normal day have a great view across the river.
Further along, the river was Hoge Brug, a foot and cycle bridge across the river. This bridge is 261 metres in length and was opened in 2003, so quite a new addition to the city. This looked creat through the mist and made me wonder what gems I would get to explore on the other side.
The footpath along the riverside was nice, with loads of bikes parked up against the railings like in most Dutch cities. The fog was beginning to clear and started getting glimpses of the opposite bank, all good, time to grab a snack and get on with the city tour RJ style.
Next stop was to Sint Martinuskerk a church I had spotted through the fog earlier but wanted to head back and have a look. Sint Martinuskerk was constructed in a neo-Gothic style and is quite pretty to look at, it was built in between 1857 and 1858. The church is of the Roman Catholic denomination, one of 4 catholic churches in the city centre. The church is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours who was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Martinuskerk_(Maastricht)
When in Rome do as the Romans do so when in The Netherlands do as the Dutch do. I headed on my only job of the day to visit a “Coffee Shop” and get some relaxation for the evening. I spotted 2 coffee chops on Google Maps so picked the closest one which happened to Be Coffeeshop Missouri. One entering I reached the turnstiles and was greeted by the owner who explained some laws in Maastrict which mean Netherlands only Residents were allowed in or to make purchases.
The mist was clearing so decided to head out if Wyck side of the river and cross the bridge over to the main historical area. Using the footpaths at the edges to avoid cyclists and have a good look at the river I crossed the Sint Servaasbrug the countries oldest pedestrian bridge. Sint Servaasbrug is a 13th-century footbridge and is a popular spot for photographs and selfie-takers. I partook in photography here taking a few photos throughout the day.
The town centre was made up of lots of narrow cobbled streets lined with shops, eateries as well as a few bars. This was a nice place to be and browse around in the relative quiet.
Basilica of Our Lady
After wandering pretty aimlessly soaking up the vibe I found Basilica of Our Lady, well the rear side first which made for a good photo.
Basilica of Our Lady also known as Church of Our Lady is a pretty Romanesque church with an intersting design of 2 towers at the main entrance or westwork side.
This was one of the buildings I had earmarked to see pre-visit, I was pretty impressed with what I found. More about the curches history…
Wandering on, the next point of interest I stumbled upon was Bisschopsmolen a historic building with an active water mill and bakery. This was fascinating to see all the mechanics of the waterwheel in action while enjoying the smell of fresh bread all around. http://www.bisschopsmolen.nl/
Medieval City Walls
Next stop was the city walls which were of great interest for me to wander around, for some reason I am fascinated with fortress/city walls.
These were best viewed from the city park which runs along side the river, the park has a lake/stream to wander along and take in the spectacular views.
The city walls were originally built in 1275 and are a fine example of medieval architecture with towers and gates. The walls evolved and grew as the city expanded, the remains are a really great walk.
Helpoort a 13th-century gate
One of the most prominent parts of the city walls is the Helpoort a 13th-century gate that features a stately facade & 2 towers. This was fantastic on the eye and really got my imagination going and transcending back to medieval times in my head (Nope I Hadn’t Smoked Anything).
The city walls led up to the university area of the city, I had nothing bookmarked for there so head back into the city, via a pub for a Tongerlo, a strong Belgian beer.
I then arrived at Vrijthof Square in the heart of the city and the venue for many Andrei Rieu classical music concerts. Vrijthof Square was quite impressive in size, it was quiet at the time but have seen it full in all its glory watching concerts on YouTube.
The Vrijthof Square has buildings on all edges including restaurants and bars on 2. The square contains a bandstand, some sculptures and trees, a nice place to be.
On the southern edge of the square is the Museum aan het Vrijthof, this is a historic building with rotating exhibits of Dutch art.
On the west side of the Vrijthof are the more impressive buildings of the area. This includes Hoofdwacht, Basilica of Saint Servatius and Saint Jan`s church.
The Hoofdwacht is a former military building where the Soldiers’ Guard was located. The building is currently used to host exhibitions or weddings.
Basilica of Saint Servatius
The Basilica of Saint Servatius is an impressive Romanesque church and pilgrimage site. The church houses and impressive treasury and some nice cloisters. About Basilica of Saint Servatius…
Saint Jan`s church
The red towered Saint Jan`s church is an impressive gothic protestant church building. Sint-Janskerk was one of the first four parish churches of the city in the middle ages. It takes its name from John the Baptist. The church was built in the 14th and 15th century and has been restored since. This tower is instantly recognisable by the 79 metres tall painted red tower. More info…
On leaving the Vrijthof I found myself crossing a rainbow LGBT rainbow pedestrian crossing, this was pretty. It has been in place there since the gay pride march of 2015.
I was aiming for the river next but headed past the nice looking building that is the Maastricht tourist information centre. In the visitor centre, you can get guides, book a tour or pick up some local souvenirs.
I spotted a church on the way, which was in fact a book shop, an interesting repurposing of this building. The boos shop has a nice cafe and loads of books in Dutch or English. Bookstore Dominicans is located in the more than 700-year-old medieval Dominican Church, which has a great atmosphere inside. https://www.libris.nl/dominicanen
Next was onto the riverfront to take some photos of the iconic Sint Servaasbrug. This is a 13th-century footbridge across the river. It is very photogenic with lots of arches and built from stone.
The bridge was named after Saint Servatius, the first bishop of Maastricht. Sint Servaasbrug is the oldest bridge in the Netherlands.
The waterfront was delightful to sit and chill and soak up the views across the river on both sides. There were boats moored up for cruises of the river and cities canals. I would like to try one of these in future which can be combined with a visit to the caves at Sint Pietersberg. Once I had my fill I crossed the Hoge Brug to visit a supermarket on the way back to the station.
I really enjoyed my visit to Maastricht and found its history and architecture fascinating. I hope to return in the future, maybe to attend an Andre Rieu concert at the Vrjithof if not sold out.