Aside from the beautiful river Maas/Meuse, old and new bridges, and the well-known Vrijthof Square and its medieval and Gothic churches, Maastricht is also home to 1677 national heritage sites (Rijksmonumenten) and lots of ruins, watermills and canals. One will find the contrast between modern structures and well-preserved sites really fascinating — even making Maastricht a good representative of the whole European continent.
Here are some of the interesting sites and attractions to visit in the oldest city in the Netherlands. After walking along the fantastic Maas promenade and admiring the St. Servatius Basilica and Sint Janskerk at Vrijthof Square, my wonderful Dutch host and I continued towards the inner city center. There, we came across the Maastricht Library and Jeker River. The river was small, it almost seemed like just a man-made canal system.
Now, let’s move on to the ruins and the medieval structures. The Valkenburg Castle, or Kasteel van Valkenburg, is a historic castle ruin which houses a network of secret caves called the Velvet caves. The caves served as escape exits. Interestingly, the castle is the only one built on a hill in the Netherlands. One needs to take an elevator to get to the Castle ruins.
Two other popular attractions are the Helpoort, or “Hell’s Gate”, and the Basilica of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek). I’m putting them together because they, somehow, look the same. Helpoort is the oldest gate in the country, and was used as a prison tower in earlier times. Today, it houses a museum of the history of Dutch fortifications. The Basilica, on the other hand, is a Romanesque Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The magnificent ancient Roman Catholic church is also called the Star of the Sea.
Then, there’s the Lang Grachtje medieval city wall, a vintage flour mill and bakery, and Sint-Lambertuskerk (St. Lambert’s Church). I couldn’t find much information about the city wall, except that it served as a defense fortification for many years. The Bisschopsmolen, however, houses a 7-th century water mill that powers a vintage flour mill of an adjacent bakery! And lastly, the St. Lambert’s Church was built between 1914 and 1916, and is dedicated to St. Lambert, a native of Maastricht.
And here are random photos I took during our walking tour. 😉 Maastricht is indeed a beautiful old city which has lots of picture-perfect sites to offer.
The Netherlands might be a small country, but boy, it has lots to offer! I haven’t even explored Amsterdam yet, nor visited the ever-famous Keukenhof flower fields. 😉 This is all for now.. TGIF! And more travels to come! Cheers! ❤