The Vrijthof is one of the most important squares in Maastricht. The two main churches in the city and all the major city events are hosted here. Maastricht is known for its carnival celebration, which takes place once a year before Lent. Expect a spectacular party, where the whole city dresses up and dances, drinks and celebrates all week long. On other occasions, the square is a lovely place to sit down for a cup of coffee and delicious stroopwafel – a delicious Dutch waffle-biscuit with a gooey, caramel center.
Explore the ruins of one of the oldest castles in the Netherlands. The Lichtenberg Castle foundations date back to the 10th century, while the other parts were built between the 12th and 15th centuries. The castle’s walls are made of sandstone and marl, both sourced locally. The ruins are situated on the eastern bank of the St. Pietersberg hill and offer a stunning view of the river Meuse and the valley. The castle is open between May and November.
Part of the original city wall, dating back to the early 13th century, Hell’s Gate was one of the entry points to the city. It lost its function when the city expanded southwards in the late 15th century. Subsequently it was used as a meeting place, an armory, for powder storage and even as a residence. Nowadays, Hell’s Gate is the only remaining city gate in Maastricht and the oldest city gate in the Netherlands. The building is open between Easter and late autumn.
The Bonnefantenmuseum is a museum dedicated to exhibiting art from both Old Masters and contemporary artists from Limburg area. See the works of 16th and 17th century Old Masters, including the paintings of Rubens, Jacob Jordaens and Anthony van Dyck. The contemporary art collection includes artworks from international artists, such as Sol LeWitt.
One of Maastricht’s most fascinating and atmospheric explorations is its rich underground landscape. Explore the tunnels and bunkers of the Casemates, created between 1575 and 1825. The Casemates military fortress is located in the west of the city and was used when the city was under siege to surprise the attacking forces from below. Join the guided tour and visit the vaulted chambers, bomb shelters and powder rooms. Tours are usually held in Dutch, so inquire at the doors about English tours.
Maastricht has eight unique neighborhoods, each with a different character and atmosphere. Wyck is located on the border between the city center and outskirts, a charming mix of old and new architecture. Cross the bridge over Maas river and explore the city’s main shopping district. Walk along the cobbled stone streets and discover the stores of local and international brands. If you get hungry, stop by one of the many restaurants and cafes located in the area.
Located on one of the main squares in Maastricht, Sint Janskerk is one of the city’s most popular landmarks. Distinguished by its tall tower in red color, the gothic style church is a stunning building from the 15th century. The church is located close to the Sint Servaasbasiliek. Stop by the colorful statues located in the middle of the square, dedicated to the carnival celebrations the city is known for.
The marl soil near Maastricht is responsible for the construction of a series of caves around the city. The landscape was used by people to construct the city’s defenses. Nowadays, the area is known as Maastricht Underground. The name combines the activities at North Caves, Zonneberg Caves, Casemates, Fort St. Piet and the ENCI quarry. Explore more than 20,000 passageways dug into the marl and see the stunning North Caves.