Touristic information Maastricht
City of Maastricht
Maastricht is the Netherlands’ southernmost city, with a charming, international character. Positioned at the crossroads of European cultures, languages and trade routes, Maastricht has a long and exciting history. It is the oldest city in the Netherlands, founded in 50BC. Romanesque churches and stately patrician houses are made for aimless strolling or cycling: the Stokstraat and Jeker districts are the most picturesque. The conference location is only at walking distance from the historical city centre.
The city's least expected claim to fame is that it saw the real-life d'Artagnan swash his last buckle. In 1673, aged 62, the fourth musketeer was killed while leading an attack on the city walls. Those fascinated by fortifications can trace the history of the city's defences, from the 13th-century Helpoort to the underground shelters used in the Second World War, on a fortification walk, brochure available at the tourist office of Maastricht, www.vvv-maastricht.eu.
The Vrijthof is dominated by the terracotta-red tower of the Gothic St Janskerk, the main Protestant church in a predominantly Catholic city. Seventy metres high, it offers splendid views of the city, the surrounding countryside and - a novelty in The Netherlands - hills. Next door is the rival religion's most significant shrine, St Servaasbasiliek, an elegant blend of rugged Romanesque and graceful Gothic. Admission to the blissfully light, white interior costs 3,50 Euro, and is worth every penny: the treasury houses the earthly remains of St Servatius, first bishop of the Low Countries until his death in AD384, as well as a host of golden reliquaries and sacred objects.
The Bonnefanten Museum
A more modern addition to the city's skyline is the bulbous dome of the Bonnefanten Museum, at Avenue Céramique 250, www.bonnefanten.nl. The museum is housed in a building designed by the Italian architect Aldo Rossi. Together with the Cupola on the River Maas, it is one of Maastricht's most prominent landmarks. Groups can tour the museum with a professional guide. The Bonnefanten Highlights Tour provides background facts on the building's architecture and interesting information about special artworks in the collection. Enthusiastic museum guides provide up-to-date information on exhibitions – an excellent way of making your visit to the Bonnefanten Museum complete.
Arts and Antiques
Maastricht certainly lives up to its reputation of being an “arty” city. Not only because it has several academies of art and music, it also offers a variety of museums, galleries and other places of interest:
Museum Spanish Gouvernment: the museum contains period rooms with mainly 17th and 18th century furnishings, including furniture, silver, porcelain and pottery, glassware and paintings, www.museumaanhetvrijthof.nl.
Natural History Museum: among the museum's highlights are the remains of enormous Mosasauriers and Giant Turtles found in marlstone at the St Pietersberg caverns. Fossils of all shapes and sizes show how South Limburg has changed in the course of the last 300 million years
Historical Printing Museum; The printing shop dates from about 1900 and is still in use, making this a living museum. Besides traditional skills, the artistic side is given ample attention. A number of display cases with various materials and equipment present an historical overview of the development of the art of printing. A number of old printing presses can be set into motion, www.drukmuseum.nl.
“Rondje Maastricht” is a walk through the old inner-city past an number of antique dealers and art galleries with an established reputation, www.antiquesmaastricht.nl.
The city also has a great number of galleries where contemporary artists exhibit their work. And on the streets... there you will find a ‘permanent exhibition’ of statues by well known Dutch sculptors.
Information on the exhibitions and opening hours of the Galleries you can find in the magazine “Uit in Maastricht”, available at the tourist office of Maastricht.
The famous 'St. Pietersberg' caves are the result of centuries of excavation of marl, a building stone. What we now see is an enormous labyrinth of more than 20,000 passages. The stone-hewers have left their marks. On the walls are interesting inscriptions, some extremely old; artists too, have been at work here. During the many sieges Maastricht has suffered, and also during the last world war, local inhabitants used the passages as a shelter; some of the emergency provisions are still to be seen.
Maastricht is situated at a historical (Roman) route just like Aachen, Liège, Hasselt and Heerlen. A brochure about these five ancient cities is available at the tourist office, Euregio Maas-Rhine.
The tourist office is in the Dinghuis, Kleine Straat 1, www.vvv-maastricht.eu.