The 15 best sights of Maastricht – descriptions and photos

Maastricht

Maastricht (Netherlands) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Maastricht with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

The city of Maastricht (Netherlands).

Maastricht – a city in the extreme south-east of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg. It is located on the Maas River on the border with Belgium and Germany. Maastricht is one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands with magnificent medieval atmosphere, many old houses, beautiful cathedrals and charming cobbled streets. It is one of the oldest settlements of the Netherlands, founded by the Romans. Also in Maastricht the treaty of the European Union was signed.

Things to do (Netherlands):

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Geography and climate

Maastricht is situated on a plain in the valley of the Maas river, which divides the city into two parts. The major canals of Liège-Maastricht, Juliana and Suede-Willems also converge here. The climate is temperate with warm summers and mild winters.

Snow in Maastricht

Snow in Maastricht

Tourist information

  1. Population – more than 120 thousand people.
  2. Area – 59 km².
  3. Language – Dutch (Dutch).
  4. Currency – the euro.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. On Wednesdays and Fridays on the Markt square there is a market. A flea market can be found on Stationsstraat on Saturdays. The large outlet store Roermond is nearby.

History

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. It was founded by the Romans in the early 1st century AD as a military fortress. A bridge over the river Maas was also built here. During this period the settlement was called Traktum ad Mozam. In the 4th century Maastricht became the seat of the bishop and was considered one of the religious centers of all the Lowlands until the 8th century.

The Maas River

Maas River

In the 8th century, Liège became the bishop’s residence, and Maastricht itself belonged to the Liège clergy and the Dukes of Brabant for most of the Middle Ages. In 1632, the city became part of the United Provinces – the first Dutch independent state. However, in the course of its subsequent history it suffered a strong Belgian influence and was repeatedly invaded by French troops.

The Streets of Maastricht

The streets of Maastricht

How to get there

Maastricht has its own small international airport with the following destinations: Barcelona, Alicante, Antalya, Budapest and Heraklion. Amsterdam’s Schiphol is a 3-hour drive and Brussels airport is 2 hours away. Maastricht has direct rail links to most cities in the Netherlands, as well as Liège, Brussels and Paris.

Markt Square

Markt Square

Attractions

Maastricht has a charming old town with narrow streets, historic squares and old buildings that has retained its medieval character. The river Maas divides the historic center into two parts. The main waterway of Maastricht is crossed by several bridges. The most interesting of them is the bridge of St. Servatius.

St. Servatius Bridge over the Maas River

St. Servatius Bridge over the Maas River

St. Servatius Bridge is the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. This magnificent seven-arch structure was built in the 13th century and is decorated with a sculpture of the saint of the same name. A stroll along the waterfront along the Maas River offers great views of the old city.

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St. Martin Church

Church of St. Martin

St. Martin’s Church is one of the most notable structures on the waterfront of the Maas River. It is a beautiful neo-Gothic church, built in 1858, which replaced an older structure destroyed by the French in the late 18th century.

City Fortifications of Maastricht

Maastricht city fortifications

In the historic center of Maastricht, you can see the old city fortifications, including:

  • Remains of the first and second medieval city walls and several towers that date back to the 13th to 14th centuries.
  • Remains of 17th and 18th century fortifications with several well-preserved bastions and an early 19th century fortress.

Gates of Hell

Gates of Hell

The Hell Gate (Helpoort) is the oldest city gate in the Netherlands and is one of the symbols of Maastricht. This imposing part of the medieval fortifications was built in the 13th century and has two towers. Of the city gates also remained the medieval Small Water Gate (Waterpoortje), which was the entrance to the city from the side of the Maas River. This gate was rebuilt in the 19th century.

Fort of St. Peter

Fort St. Peter

On the northern part of the old city is St. Peter’s Hill with the 18th century fortress of the same name. Under the fortress begins the famous Maastricht dungeons – a network of underground tunnels, which extend under the old city and are about 200 km long. They were built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Some of them are open to the public.

Vrijthof Square

Vrijthof Square

Vrijthof Square is the largest and most beautiful city square in the Netherlands, with two magnificent churches and many beautiful historic buildings.

The Church of St. Servatius (pictured right) is a Romanesque basilica with important medieval sculptures, a beautiful portal (on the south side) and a magnificent nave. The church was built in the 6th century over the tomb of St. Servatius, the first bishop of Maastricht, who is the patron saint of the city. The rich treasury of the church functions as a museum in which you can see many sacred relics, paintings and statues, as well as a late-Romanesque chest containing the remains of St. Servatius. In addition, in the church you can see the old crypt, statues of Charlemagne and fragments of the altar from the 12th century.

The Church of St. John the Baptist (pictured left) is the main Protestant church in Maastricht with a tall red tower, built in the Gothic style.

Town Hall

Town Hall

The town hall is a historic 17th-century building that is considered a masterpiece of Dutch Baroque. Nearby is the courthouse with an early Renaissance facade.

Our Lady Basilica

Our Lady Basilica

The Basilica of Our Lady is an imposing Romanesque church founded in the early 11th century. It has the appearance of a fortress and was once part of the city’s fortifications. In the mid-12th century vaults and transepts were added to the church. At the beginning of the 13th century, the east choir was built. The structure of the church features a late Gothic choir with a large crypt, a side chapel with a depiction of the Virgin Mary, and a western crypt that belonged to an earlier building.

Bishop's mill

Bishop’s Mill

The Bishop’s Mill is an original 14th century watermill that is still in operation. In the adjacent bakery, you can sample baked goods made from the flour it produces.

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Interesting excursions

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15 sights to see in Maastricht

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Welcome to the glorious city of Maastricht! From well-preserved medieval churches to museums filled with priceless art treasures, the attractions in this old city are varied. Despite this, the most popular thing to do in Maastricht is still to simply stroll around its atmospheric streets and promenades.

Straddling both banks of the river Maas, Maastricht is the capital of the province of Limburg and one of the busiest commercial and tourist centers in Holland. The signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 made the city a symbol of the European Union and it was here that the first meeting of the 12 member states of the new political entity took place.

Basilica of St. Servatius

Basilica of St. Servatius

Basilica of St. Servatius.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Servatius is the oldest church in the Netherlands. It was built in the 6th century on the tomb of St. Servatius, the first bishop of Maastricht. Among the main attractions are the Imperial Hall and the Imperial Gallery, which appeared between 1165 and 1677, and the remarkable southern portal with a 13th-century biblical sculpture.

Other interesting features include the beautiful nave vaults and transepts built in the 14th and 15th centuries.

However, the greatest pride of the old church is considered to be its treasury, which is now kept in a separate museum. Among its exhibits are various sacred artifacts, paintings and statues, as well as a late Romanesque chest containing the relics of St. Servatius himself, who died in 384 AD.

The locals turned to this chest (nicknamed “the poor”) whenever the city was in some kind of danger. Also worth seeing here are the crypt with the tomb of Charles V, the statue of Charlemagne and the fragments of an ancient 12th century altar.

Address: The Treasures of Saint Servatius, Keizer Karelplein 3, 6211 TC Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Mount St. Peter

Mount St. Peter

Mount St. Peter. | Photo: David Kirsch / Flickr.

Mount St. Peter forms the northernmost part of the vast plateau that stretches between Maastricht and Liege, Belgium. It is a nature reserve and a popular recreation area, famous for being home to the 18th century Fort St. Peter. It was built as a defensive structure against the raids of the French.

Under the fortress and the mountain are the famous casemates of St. Peter – a vast system of tunnels and passages, which were formed over many centuries. At one time there were more than 20,000 passages with a total length of 200 kilometers. Some of these passages were expanded to accommodate warehouses, bakeries, and even chapels during World War II.

The casemates were also used to protect the city’s cultural treasures, including Rembrandt’s legendary Night Watch. Tourists can take a guided tour to learn about the history of the fortress and the catacombs.

Address: Fort Sint Pieter, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Catacombs

Catacombs

Catacombs.

The Maastricht Catacombs offer eerie and fascinating tours through various sections of the vast network of underground tunnels under the St. Peter’s massif. The tour schedule is constantly changing: there are up to five in the summer, but in the off-season there may not be any at all – check the website for information.

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The more popular tours of the North Catacombs look back to the Napoleonic Conquests and start at the same box office as the St. Peter’s Dungeon Tours. If you have a small group, you can try to politely ask the guide to extend the tour to the Nazi art vaults.

The large Sonneberg (southern) caves, which sheltered thousands of people during the bombings of World War II, offer remarkable frescoes and evidence of centuries of local mineral extraction. Tours of the Sonneberg Catacombs begin at the Buitengoed Slavante Café.

Address: Maastricht Underground, Luikerweg 71, 6212 NH Maastricht, Netherlands.

Virgin Mary Basilica

Virgin Mary Basilica

Virgin Mary Basilica.

The charming Basilica of Our Lady was erected around 1000 AD and today only a part of the original structure survives. Vaults and transepts were added around 1150, and the east choir and gallery above the ambulatory appeared in the early 13th century.

The powerful Romanesque west facade with two towers reminds tourists of the original purpose of the church, which was once part of the city’s fortifications. Particularly impressive are the late Gothic choir with a large crypt and the side chapel with an image of the Star of the Mother of God dating from the 15th century.

Other interesting features include the original west vault left over from an earlier church, the church reliquary, the neat 16th-century cloister and the picturesque west tower.

Address: The Basilica of Our Lady, Onze Lieve Vrouweplein 7, 6211 HD Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Church of Saint John the Baptist

Church of St. John the Baptist (right)

Church of St. John the Baptist (right). | Photo: Frans Berkelaar / Flickr.

The colorful red-brick bell tower is the signature of this church, which is why it is referred to as the “red church. The bell tower is made exclusively of marl rock and therefore has a unique architectural flavor – we guarantee you won’t find similar buildings in the entire region.

The church was built in the Middle Ages, and ancient documents show that long ago it was white and even yellow.

The interior of this church is also quite interesting: it features many high stained glass windows, beautiful stonework, a richly decorated pulpit made of carved wood and a massive old organ.

The address is Sint-Janskerk, Vrijthof, Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Bonnefanten Museum

Bonnefanten Museum

Bonnefanten Museum | Photo: Jim Forest / Flickr.

The magnificent Bonnefanten Museum is located on the right bank of the river Maas in an original building that resembles a retro-futuristic version of a rocket from the 1950s. This museum displays the most valuable works of art of Maastricht.

It was named after a former convent where street children were also raised, which is where the name “bons enfants” – meaning “fostered children” – comes from.

This magnificent building, with its voluminous conical tower (as already mentioned, similar to the nose of a rocket), houses numerous paintings by Dutch and Italian masters, as well as many interesting contemporary works. You can also see rich collections of medieval art, including wooden sculptures from the 13th and 16th centuries.

Address: Bonnefantenmuseum, Avenue Ceramique, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

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Vrijthof Museum

Vrijthof Museum

Wraithof Museum.

The Wraithof Museum is also one of the most valuable museums of the city. It is surrounded by wonderful Dutch buildings on the square of the same name, which is considered one of the most picturesque squares in the city.

The museum occupies the former home of the Dukes of Brabant, built in the 16th century, and its collection abounds with ancient paintings, sculptures, furniture, silver, porcelain and glassware.

Of particular note is a collection of paintings by Dutch and Flemish painters from the 17th century, masterpieces by the masters of the Hague School, and stunning sculptures from the Middle Ages. The permanent exhibition ‘500 Years of Maastricht’ tells about the arts and crafts of the region.

Address: Museum aan het Vrijthof, Vrijthof, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

The walls of the old town and Hell’s Gate

Walls of the Old Town and the Hell Gate

Walls of the old town and Hell’s Gate. | Photo: wikimedia.

In the old part of Maastricht there are whole sections of the first city walls built around 1229. The most interesting of these are the so-called Hell’s Gate at St. Bernardusstraat, which is the oldest city gate in all of Holland, and the curious Jecker Tower.

There’s also Onze-Liv Vrouwel, a section of the old wall that offers a good view of the city park with its rare cannons. The ruins of the second city wall date from around 1350.

Address: Helpoort, Sint Bernardusstraat, Maastricht, Netherlands.

Walk around Maastricht: the Wilhelminabrug Bridge and the St. Servatius Bridge

St. Servatius Bridge

St. Servatius Bridge | Photo: Frans Berkelaar / Flickr.

So you’re in Maastricht for the first time. What to see if you want to get into the spirit of the city first? We suggest hiking across the Wilhelminabrug Bridge and the St. Servatius Bridge. The Wilhelminabrug is a beautiful bridge over the Maas River built in the early 1930s.

It is a great starting point for a walking tour of the picturesque coastal streets of Maastricht.

This is where it makes sense to go to the magnificent seven-arch bridge of St. Servatius, built in the 13th century and famous for its statue of this revered saint in the city. Be sure to take a walk to the historic Vic district on the right bank of the Maas, where you can see the remaining sections of the old city wall.

Address: Sint Servaasbrug, Maastricht, Netherlands.

Romantic Valkenburg

“Thermae 2000” thermal springs and pools.

Only 13 km east of Maastricht, Valkenburg is home to the only hilltop castle in the Netherlands. Here are some of the best spas in the country, the most popular of which is considered “Thermae 2000”.

It offers warm thermal springs and pools, healing mineral waters and a wonderful botanical garden. After a vacation, be sure to go to the old town, which is interesting to explore on its own.

Visit the church of St. Nicholas, built in the XIV century in the late Gothic style, where you will see a magnificent triptych depicting scenes from the life of St. Remigius. Other interesting sights in the old town include numerous beautiful houses, such as the 17th-century Huis Den Halder and the even older 15th-century Huis Ost.

On the way you will pass massive city walls, ruins of ancient 14th century fortifications, among which are two former city gates – Grendelpoort and Berkelpoort.

Address: Thermae 2000, Cauberg, Valkenburg, the Netherlands.

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De Bisschopsmolen Mill

De Bisschopsmolen Mill

De Bisschopsmolen Mill. | Photo: Jorge Franganillo / Flickr.

One of the pleasant finds that you can discover while strolling through the streets of Maastricht is a working watermill, built back in the 14th century. And it is not just a prop: in a nearby bakery you can buy real bread produced in this mill.

At the café nearby you can try the local specialty, the Limburgse vlaai. It is a delicious pie with cherries, plums or apricots.

Address: Bisschopsmolen, Stenenbrug 3, 6211 HP Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Maastricht Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum Maastricht

Maastricht Natural History Museum | Photo: Jan Willem Broekema / Flickr.

The Maastricht Natural History Museum, although not large in size, is definitely worth your attention. It occupies a former monastery building in the old Jekerkwartier district and is known for its colorful exhibits that tell the story of the geological development of the region through displays of local fossils and rocks.

Here you can see an exhibit called the “rat king,” a group of rats tied together by their tails. The biological section contains numerous specimens of local flora and includes a botanical garden on the banks of the Jacker River.

Address: Natural History Museum, De Bosquetplein 7, 6211 KJ Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Derlon Museum

Derlon Museum

Derlon Museum.

Another small museum in Maastricht that is definitely worth going to is the Derlon Museum. It is located in the basement of the hotel of the same name, and displays ancient Roman ruins and artifacts dating back to the II-IV centuries AD, which were excavated during the reconstruction of the building in the early 1980s.

You can also see parts of the old Roman fort and the ruins of an ancient sanctuary. There is also a section of the old cobblestone road (presumably of Celtic origin), the facade of the entrance to the sanctuary from around 150 AD, the base of a statue of Jupiter, parts of the old Roman walls and gate and numerous antique items of pottery, glass and metal.

Address: Museumkelder Derlon, Onze Lieve Vrouweplein 6, 6211 HD Maastricht, The Netherlands.

City Hall and Market Square

City Hall

Town Hall.

The center of the lively Market Square is undoubtedly the baroque town hall of Maastricht. Built in the 1750s it has a striking neoclassical façade with a slender doorway to which a massive double staircase leads.

The staircase was designed precisely so that the two rulers of Maastricht, the Duke of Brabant and the Prince-Bishop of Liège, could enter the building at the same time. Notable features of the interior are the imposing tapestries, elegant moldings, paintings on the ceiling, and beautiful chimneys.

There is a food market on Wednesdays and Fridays and a flea market on Saturdays.

Address: Maastricht City Hall, Markt, Maastricht, Netherlands.

White Village Thorn

The White Village of Thorn

White Village Thorn | Photo: wikimedia.

Thorn is another wonderful village located in the Limburg region. It is located about 30 minutes north of the city and you can easily spend a whole day here. This unusual settlement, also known as the “white village,” used to be a separate principality and a haven for nuns and nobles who lived in the local Abdykerk monastery.

You can still see this monastery surrounded by beautiful little white houses and pretty cobblestone streets. This magical place will take you back in time and give you a break from the usual tourist attractions of the big city.

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