A few years ago I spent the best part of a year living and working in the German city of Düsseldorf, not far from the Dutch border. Living so close to Holland I was determined to make the most of it, and so one day, during my Easter break, I finally got my act together and headed off on my way to the city of Maastricht with a lovely travel companion by my side.
Our trip to Maastricht was relatively easy. We opted for the route via Venlo and, all in all, we were travelling for around 2 hours each way. Maastricht is described as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the Netherlands, priding itself on its serene natural surroundings, as well as, quaint historical districts offering art, history and culture. Needless to say, we were keen to visit the city ourselves and see if this really was true..
Once we arrived in Maastricht we made our made straight down the Stationstraat, being careful to keep out of the cyclists way, until we reached the vast river Maas. After crossing Sint Servaasbrug we emerged into the semi-pedestrianised old town and began our walk through the pretty streets.
It immediately became apparent that something was going on in the town – everyone was kitted out in orange T-shirts and accessories, and the streets were buzzing with people. This seems to be a normal occurrence for any of my trips to the Netherlands – there has always been some kind of event or festivity. Previous visits have coincided with Karnival in Nijmegen, a half-marathon in Venlo and now Maastricht on what turned out to be King’s Day, a national holiday.
Feeling a little out of place and feeling rather self-aware, as neither of us were wearing any shade of orange, we definitely stood out as tourists. However, we did not let this stop us and decided that if we looked like tourists, we would certainly act like them. So, out came my camera and we made a bee-line to the Tourist Information office where we bought a map of the city, and in typical tourist fashion, were stung doing so (it cost 2 euros!).
We soon found ourselves in the expansive Markt with its grand town-hall in the centre. The square had a whole host of small and narrow buildings around it’s perimeter, which hosted a number of cafes and restaurants.
After a wander around the square, we turned off onto one of the side streets, heading in the direction of Vrijthof, another large square. On our way, we passed a number of picturesque buildings, including the one below just off of the Grote Straat.
The Vrijthof was soon in view, with yet more attractive buildings, and of course the towering ecclesiastical buildings of the St. Servatius Basilica and the church of St. John. This vast square has attracted visitors for hundreds of years as they come to see the grave of Saint Servatius, a missionary and bishop who allegedly died in Maastricht in 384AD. Nowadays however, the Vrijthof is well known for its outdoor cafes and events, one of which was being held in the square as we visited.
Leaving the square behind us, we strolled down one of the side streets leading off from the square, passing more cafes, and the like, as we went. After some time strolling through the narrow streets, we stumbled into the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein and were met with the sight of the huge Basilica of Our Lady.
It was soon time to think about making our way back to the station. So, winding our way, in true explorer fashion, through the back streets we were able to confirm Maastricht’s claim of being a romantic city… as it was picturesque and charming just like this picture below..
Have you ever visited Maastricht? Or maybe you’d like to? Did I miss anything on my visit to the city? Do let me know in the comments below!