Maastricht was born as a Roman settlement due to its advantageous location along the Maas River. As a result, it is known as one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands, with a rich cultural, religious, and industrial history. It’s strategic location also led to Maastricht becoming a “garrison” city, with a long military history. The well-preserved old city walls, through which visitors can still stroll, provide atmospheric evidence of this history.
In the Middle Ages, Maastricht also became known as a pilgrimage site for Christians visiting the grave of Saint Servatius. The city is dotted with numerous large Catholic and Protestant churches, which focus the religious and cultural lives of Maastricht residents even today. For example, the annual celebration of “Carnaval,” the several days preceding Lent in the Christian calendar, is an important time of year for many. Neighborhood- based Carnaval committees are formed months in advance to support local initiatives and prepare for the four days of music and parades that dominate Maastricht during this period.
In the early 19th century, Maastricht became The Netherlands’ industrial spark. Petrus Regout began to manufacture glasswork and pottery in Maastricht and his enterprise became the Sphinx factory, which functioned until the late 1900s. Maastricht was also the industrial home to a large cement factory, mining companies, and other industries until very recently.
Today, Maastricht, and its population of approximately 120,000 people, is known as a diverse, international city of knowledge, spearheaded by Maastricht University and several other knowledge institutions based in town. International companies such as DSM, Sabic, and Vodafone contribute to a vibrant international community. Additionally, Maastricht is the site of the “birth of the European Union” where the Maastricht treaty was signed in 1992. Visitors will enjoy numerous culinary and shopping opportunities within and outside the city center. Maastricht is home to many Michelin-recommended restaurants, several of which have been honored with Michelin stars. And, the beautiful city park runs through the middle of the city and along the river, providing a green space for visitors and residents to relax and congregate.
More specific information about Maastricht can be found on the Maastricht Tourist Office’s website
Recommended Tourist sites within walking distance of SBE:
- Sint Servaas kerk(www.sintervaas.nl)
- Sint Janskerk
- The Vrijthof Museum (http://www.museumaanhetvrijthof.nl/)
- The Theater on the Vrijthof (http://www.theateraanhetvrijthof.nl/)
- The Markt Square hosts the weekly Friday morning market where visitors can purchase fresh food, flowers, and a variety of household goods and clothing.
- The Town Hall, located in the center of Market Square, is open to visitors
Onze Lieve Vrouweplein is the third of Maastricht’s large squares. The Onze Lieve Vrouwe Basilica is beautiful and visitors are welcome to visit its museum. “OLV” is also very picturesque and offers a number of cafes serving excellent food.