The following blog post was written with the assistance of AI
Maastricht is located in the southern-most part of the Netherlands, close to the borders of Germany and Belgium. One of the major geographical features in Maastricht is the Meuse river. As we walked along its banks, we paid attention to the light hustle and bustle of the city. Cyclists and pedestrians alike crossed from one side of the river to the other. Car traffic was minimal. The banks of the river are dotted with benches, allowing people to just sit and enjoy view, or even catch the aroma of nearby cafes and eateries or the crisp river breeze. The architecture of Maastricht graces the horizon adding to the scenery.
Within the historic city center, the Binnenstad (translates to “inner city”) still retains its architecture to create an atmosphere of old-world charm. Cobblestone streets wind through the district, leading to past centuries-old buildings adorned with ornate facades. City squares are surrounded by historic structures, bustling cafes, and vibrant markets, making them hubs of activity and culture.
The great thing is that the whole city center is a pedestrian zone. This is something I really enjoy about Europe in general that we don’t get back home. North Americans are so engrossed in their car culture that this would never happen.
One of the iconic buildings in the Binnenstad is the Boekhandel Dominicanen, which is housed within a 700-year-old Gothic church. The nave, once filled with pews and worshippers, now houses bookshelves and reading areas. The church’s original features, including its grand arches, columns, and stained glass windows, were preserved, creating a breathtaking backdrop that melds the spiritual and the intellectual.
Maastricht’s attractions extend beyond the old town streets and the picturesque Meuse River. Not far from the city center, and beneath the surface lies a hidden world that adds another layer of fascination to the city—the Maastricht Caves. These underground passages, some of which were carved by hand centuries ago, for mining limestone. The rock is so porous that if you poured water on it, and touched the rock immediately, it’d be dry.
As mining activity decreased in the caves, people started making works of art on its walls, which added to tourism in Maastricht.
In its recent history, the caves provided shelter during wartime, and were also used to hide valuable paintings from the Germans. The cave network is massive enough to easily hide this sort of stuff. Even if the Germans knew there were things hidden in here, it’s unlikely they’d be able to uncover every corner of this place. Even with a light, the place is tough to navigate – imagine having no light.
The area above the caves now has become a hiking trail with a viewpoint to a quarry that ceased operations in 2018, and an old military fort used to defend Maastricht in centuries past.
Look here to see more of Maastricht