Maastricht, the capital of the province ofLimburg set on the Maas River,, is the southernmost city in the Netherlands. The population is around 120,000 and the historic city has many fine old buildings and a vibrant, multicultural atmosphere. The cobblestoned town centre, with its its fine cuisine, excellent shops and old laneways, is very popular with visitors.
Perhaps one of the best (free) sights of Maastricht is simply to admire the two town squares in the centre of the city; The Vrijthof, which features the massive St Servaas Church and St Jan’s Cathedral; and The Markt, which features the Town Hall (Stadhuis) and on Wednesdays and Fridays, markets.
The Vrijthof regularly hosts large festivals at various times throughout the year, including autumn and winter festivals. The Carnaval before Lent is an amazing occasion where (it seems) the whole city dresses up in costume and parties until the early hours. It really has to be seen to be believed, this is a North European Mardi Gras, hence colder and darker than its American cousin.
Avenue Céramique 250, +31 (43) 329 01 99), . Tue-Sun: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm; Mon: closed, except on public holidays.
The museum is the foremost museum of Old Masters and contemporary art in the province of Limburg. The contemporary art collection contains works by an international group of artists. In addition to contemporary paintings, the collection also includes projections and gallery-sized installations. The collection of Old Masters emphasises on 16th and 17th century Flemish paintings, including major works by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens. In addition, the collection comprises magnificent medieval sculptures by Jan van Steffenswert, early Italian paintings and a presentation of Maastricht silver.
▪ Derlon Museum Cellar
Plankstraat 21, +31 (43) 325 21 21. Sun: 12.00 am – 4.00 pm.
Before the restoration of the Derlon Hotel started, Maastricht’s city archeologists undertook an extensive survey of the site. The Roman finds, from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century, are considered that important that it was decided to conserve them and exhibit these to interested parties. The following can be seen in the cellar of Derlon Hotel: part of a 2nd and 3rd century square, a 3rd century well, part of a pre- Roman cobblestone road and sections of a wall and a gate dating from the 4th century. Free entry.
▪ Natuurhistorisch Museum, De Bosquetplein
De Bosquetplein 7, +31 (43) 350 54 90 Mon-Fri: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm; Sat-Sun: 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm.
The museum outlines the natural history of southern Limburg. Modern displays offer an insight into both the recent and distant past. Among the museum’s highlights are the remains of enormous Mosasauriers and Giant Turtles found in marlstone at the St Pietersberg caverns. Fossils of all shapes and sizes show how South Limburg has changed in the course of the last 300 million years.