Along the Meuse
Maastricht is the capital of Limburg, the oddly-shaped Dutch province nestled between Belgium to the south and west, and Germany to the east. Situated on the Belgian border and a stone’s throw away from Germany on both sides of the Meuse River, it is a multifaceted city known for its rich history and culture.
Maastricht may be the oldest city in the Netherlands, although some claim that Nijmegen holds the title. Either way, it has been inhabited continuously since Roman times, evolving from a Roman settlement to a religious centre, a garrison city and an early industrial city.
Maastricht was the first Dutch city to be liberated by Allied forces after WWII ended, and also the site of signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which led to the creation of the European Union and the euro.
Nowadays, the city is home to around 121,000 people and is known as a city of history, attractions, culture, local folklore and education. Maastricht’s historic inner city includes the Vrijthof, a beautiful square that attracted pilgrims in medieval times to see the grave of Saint Servatius, but now attracts everyone with its outdoor cafés and events.
Because of its strategic position on the Meuse river, Maastricht has been attacked by foreign rulers on countless occasions over the centuries, and features elaborate city walls, moats, forts and other defensive works around the city as a result. These include a network of underground passageways built between 1575 and 1825, which were used by soldiers to surprise enemies during times of siege, and are now partly open to the public.
Maastricht is also known as a city of indulgence and culinary highlights. The city’s celebration of Carnival is among the biggest and most festive in all of the Netherlands.