12 July 2008


These last few posts from my trip to the Netherlands have been a long time coming - my apologies!

Maastricht served as our home base for the second two weeks of the trip. The city sits on the Maas river and has been around since the Romans occupied northern Europe (the name is derived from the Latin Traiectum ad Mosam).

View of the river Meuse.

The city is home to the comparatively infant Universiteit Maastricht, where we met for lectures, as well as the Basilica of St. Servatius and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Basilica, both of which are a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Basilica of St. Servatius

Romanesque part of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe (Our Lady) Basilica

Maasticht's location close to the German border and far from the early Protestant centers in the Netherlands means that it feels much different from the rest of the country and retains many Catholic elements. The Markt and Vrijthof squares form the heart of the city with the St. Servatius bridge linking the east and west halves of the city.
Typical street in the city center.

St. Servatius bridge on a very rainy day.

With all the history here, it would seem inevitable that I would fall in love with Maastricht, but truthfully, that just wasn't the case. In all fairness, my judgement is biased due to the location of where we stayed which hampered sightseeing and really enjoying the city, and after Amsterdam, Haarlem, Bruges, and Paris, Maastricht didn't really have much of a chance of making my list of favorite places. That being said, there are plenty of things which make Maastricht interesting and appealing and I would have loved to have spent more time in the rural areas around the city.
Fields around Maastricht.

Our first full day in Maastricht took us to the man-made caves in the hills above the river which were used in WWII to hide people and art, including the iconic Nightwatch.
Path to the caves.

The caves - the ceilings exceed 20' in most places.

Seventeenth-century graffito.

Contemporary cartoon of Louix XIV of France.

Drawing commemorating Napoleon's visit to the caves.

Champignons in the caves!
The next week, we went on a tour of Maastricht and saw the Basilica of St. Servatius, the Vrijthof, and the city's Roman walls.
Basilica of St. Servatius.

City walls.

Two mills powered by water wheels continue to operate in the city. On that particular day, the Basilica of St. Servatius was closed, but I was able to visit the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Basilica, a very dark, imposing church and starkly different from the even the Gothic cathedrals in the western Low Countries.

Interior chapel of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Basilica.

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