Maastricht is one of the most vibrant cities in the Netherlands. With its cobbled streets and fashionable boutiques in the old town, contemporary architecture in the Céramique district, a fantastic art fair and excellent cuisine, the city literally buzzes with excitement and its multilingual, multinational population epitomizes the most positive aspects of the European Union.
Though its claim to be the oldest town in the Netherlands is disputed by Nijmegen, Maastricht was certainly settled by the Romans, who took one look at the River Maas and dubbed the town Mosae Trajectum or “Crossing of the Maas”. An important stopoff on the trading route between Cologne and the North Sea, the town boasted a Temple of Jupiter, whose remains are now on view in a hotel basement. A millennium later, Charlemagne beefed up the city too, though his legacy is ecclesiastical, his two churches representing some of the finest extant Romanesque architecture in the whole of the country.
Maastricht has also had its hard times, hitting the economic skids in the 1970s after the last of the region’s coal mines closed, but its fortunes have been revived by a massive regeneration scheme, which has pulled in foreign investors by the busload. The town is now popular as a day-trip destination with the Dutch, the Germans and the Belgians, and it is also home to students from around the world studying at over forty international institutes, including the European Journalism Centre and the University of the United Nations. Redevelopment continues apace today with the addition of ’t Bassin, a spruced-up inland harbour north of the Markt, with a handful of restaurants, cafés and galleries. The most recent construction in the centre of town is the Mosae Forum, a shopping centre with an attractive blend of classical and modern architecture. Finally, Maastricht is especially appealing during Carnival, with colourful parades and locals and visitors alike dressed up in the most creative outfits, mostly handmade.Read More
TEFAF art and antiques fair
TEFAF art and antiques fair
Once a year, art and antique lovers gather at the TEFAF fair (w tefaf.com), held in the congress centre (MECC) in Maastricht. From its modest beginnings in 1975 when it specialized in old master paintings, the TEFAF now claims to be the world’s leading fine art and antiques fair, attracting visitors from all over the world. It usually takes place in March, but check the exact dates on the website. Even if you’re not an art lover it’s worth noting the dates, as finding accommodation is almost impossible when it’s on.
Maastricht is known as the culinary capital of the Netherlands, and never more so than during Preuvenemint, an annual four-day culinary event held on the last full weekend in August (w preuvenemint.nl), when Vrijthof square is filled with over thirty stands functioning as restaurants. “Preuvenemint” is a contraction of the Maastricht words “preuve” (to taste) and “evenemint” (event), and it’s a great way to explore the richness of Dutch cuisine. The main attraction, though, has to be the crowd the event attracts. Posh Maastricht comes out to show off its latest purchases, but also to contribute to a good cause, since all the proceeds go to charity.