Maastricht offers the chance to explore the Netherlands in a way you have never seen it before! Castles, centuries-old city walls, the cuisine, all contributing to the appeal of what makes Maastricht so unique.
Founded as early as Roman times, Maastricht is rich in history and cultural importance. Due to Maastricht’s proximity to several other countries, it differs from the rest of the country and is often said to be the ‘most European’ place in the Netherlands.
If you decide to book a weekend getaway, Maastricht is the place to go, and here is why:
Fort Sint Pieter
The highest northern part of the great plateau that stretches between Maastricht and the city of Liège in Belgium is a nature and recreation park, as for the 18th century Fort Sint Pieter, the fortress was built to defend the city from the French. Beneath the fortress and the mountain are the famous caves of St. Pietersberg, a large system of tunnels and passages created over the centuries thanks to a local stone quarry. There are about 20,000 passages here with a total length of 200 kilometers, some of which expand with storerooms, a bakery, and even a chapel used during World War II. The caves are open with a guided tour, offering the opportunity to see evidence of ancient fossils.
Basilica of Our Lady
The impressive Basilica of Our Lady, built around 1000, although only part of the original stands today. The fortress is reminiscent of the former function of the church as part of the city fortifications. The late Gothic choir with a large crypt is particularly cozy, as is the side chapel containing a painting of Lady Star of the Sea dating from the 15th century.
On the banks of the Maas River, in a building resembling a 1950s version of a rocket ship, the state-of-the-art Bonnefanten Museum. This magnificent building with its massive conical tower contains numerous paintings by many Dutch and foreign masters. Here, you can find rich collections of medieval art, including wooden sculptures from 13th to 16th century.
Museum aan het Vrijthof
In one of the most attractive squares in Maastricht, surrounded by characteristic Dutch architecture, lies the Museum aan het Vrijthof. Its collections include paintings, sculptures, silver, porcelain and glass from Maastricht. The Wagner-De Wit collection of works by Dutch and Flemish artists from the 17th century, as well as paintings by members of the Hague School, with sculptures from the Middle Ages, are most notable and worthy of seeing.
Home to the only hilltop castle in the Netherlands, Valkenburg has long been a popular resort thanks to its beautiful spas. By far the most popular is Thermae 2000, one of the largest spa facilities in the country. It is known for its hot spring baths and swimming pools, healing mineral waters and botanical garden. Other attractions in the old town are the many beautiful old houses, such as the 17th century Huis Den Halder. Make sure to also visit the old city walls, along with two city gates, Grendelpoort and Berkelpoort.
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