Exploring Maastricht

The MaasRecently, some friends came to visit me and I had to familiarize myself with Maastricht highlights very quickly. Do you often forget to explore your city because you’re too busy with your daily life? I do, but I’m really glad I made an exception and took the time to explore. Here’s an overview and don’t forget your umbrella or flat shoes – Maastricht is full of cobblestone and the skies are known to share their wrath at any given moment.

Het Vrijthof is the main square in Maastricht and a common locale for events (such as the Christmas market). Located directly on the Vrijthof are two churches – Sint-Janskerk and Sint-Servaas Basiliek. Sint-Janskerk is a Protestant church and has the red tower. Sint-Servaas Basiliek is a Catholic church. The street in between the two churches translates to “Purgatory.” I highly recommend climbing the tower in Sint-Janskerk church. The view is spectacular. Right now, there’s also an anamorphosis directly on the Vrijthof. It’s an image that looks 2D when you’re staring at it but is 3D when you see it from the tower. The day I climbed it, they were still cleaning up from a food festival, so the trucks were obstructing the image a bit. Can you see it?

View from Sint-Janskerk     Vrijthof, Saint Servatius Basilica   behind the Vrijthof

Polare Maastricht, which is a former church converted into a bookstore. It is my favorite place in Maastricht, not only because the bookstore is so unique, but it also hosts Coffeelovers, which is now my favorite coffee brand worldwide. The bookstore has changed a lot since Polare took over, and reduced and moved the English selection. However, it’s still a must see when visiting Maastricht.

Bookstore     Coffelovers    Coffelovers

Helport is the oldest gate in the Netherlands, supposedly from the 13th century. There isn’t much to explore per say, other than seeping in the history before your eyes.

Helport full       Helpoort      Helport angle

Obviously, Maastricht has a lot of churches. But the converted ones are really unique. The Kruisherenhotel Maastricht is a church converted into a hotel. It’s the most expensive hotel in Maastricht and where King Willem and Queen Maxima stayed when they came to visit. Definitely a must see.

Kruisherenhotel Maastricht      Kruisherenhotel Maastricht   Kruisherenhotel Maastricht

The Markt features city hall, Mosae Forum which is where a ton of shops are, a market on Wednesdays and Fridays and good restaurants.

Markt     Markt    DSC00719

Want to tantalize your senses? Then Bisschopsmolen is the place to be. The bakery has a mill that dates back to the 7th century and is still being used. It’s very unassuming, so just follow the smell. Check out the mill and then stand in line for some delicious treats and bread.

Bisschopsmolen      Bisschopsmolen   Bisschopsmolen

Onze Lieve Vrouweplein features yet another church – Basilica of Our Lady, which is from the 11th century. There are lots of great cafes around or take a stroll in the park.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein

Last but not least is the River Maas. There are three bridges that cross the Maas, which I refer to as the pedestrian bridge, old bridge and the bus bridge (because the cars and buses can use it). They each offer a different and beautiful landscape view of Maastricht.

Pedestrian Bridge     Old bridge    Bus bridge

So, what place are you looking forward to visiting first? Are you from or living in Maastricht and think I forgot a major site? Chime in and let me know. Until then, happy exploring!

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