Unlike the “Outside the Limits” series, this time we took a 2.5 hour train ride for our day trip. But it was still worth it! Tucked away in the southern tip of the Netherlands is a province surrounded by Belgium called Limburg. Maastricht is the capital of Limburg, is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, and is quite expansive as it extends over the Meuse river.
Maastricht actually has its special place in European history. In 1992, a treaty was negotiated in, signed in, and named after this Dutch city. This treaty was the start of the European Union and the Euro. Thanks Maastricht!
The international population here is growing rapidly. Dutch is (of course) the official language here, though you will find English widely spoken, and you will also find a lot of French and German here due to the proximity to Belgium and Germany.
Once we returned from our day trip, we were asked “Did you see the hills and the caves?”. Sadly, the answer is no. I’m not sure if I am so used to seeing hills that I didn’t notice, but I’m disappointed that I missed such a sight! And the caves will definitely be on our to-do list during our next visit.
We did see the beautiful large buildings that seem to tower over one of the public squares, Vrijthof. The collection of historic buildings in close quarters was surprising, but allowed us to take photos, move to the left, take some more of a new building, and so on. I can imagine such a square filled with people for a celebration.
The smallest building in Vrijthof is the Hoofdwacht, a civic guard headquarters. Next to that is the Roman Catholic Church, Basiliek van Sint Servaas with its imposing features that make the Hoofdwacht look like a small model of a building. There is no way to miss the next church, Sint-Janskerk (St. John’s Church). Its two-tone exterior is quite the sight as the red tower doesn’t quite fit with its surroundings. This is the Protestant church of the city, and is still in use today. Each day except for Sunday, you can visit the inside of this church and even climb to the top of the tower in the summer.
Weddings are beautiful no matter where you are, but seeing an antique car outside of Sint-Janskerk, a photo and video crew, and watching the family and friends in their Sunday best walking out from under the archway while the bells rang was simply perfect. It made me want to do it all over again in Europe! With the same husband of course 🙂
Maastricht has it all with its small side streets, shopping district, traditional Dutch food, regal buildings, and charm. We tend to take quick trips to places and then see if we want to return. Well, we can’t wait to head back to Maastricht to explore the caves, hills, and more of the history it offers.