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Maastricht ( or ; Limburgish (incl. Maastrichtian) Mestreech ; French Ma√ęstricht (archaic)) is a city and a municipality in the southern part of the Dutchmarker province of Limburgmarker, of which it is the capital. The city is situated on both sides of the Meusemarker river (Dutch: Maas) in the south-eastern part of the Netherlandsmarker, on the Belgianmarker border and near the Germanmarker border. The city is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, a Euregio whose other main cities include Aachen, Germanymarker and Hasseltmarker and Li√®gemarker in respectively Dutch-speaking and French-speaking Belgium. The municipality borders the Dutch municipalities of Meerssenmarker to the north, Margratenmarker in the east, Eijsdenmarker in the south whilst it borders the Belgian municipalities of Lanakenmarker and Riemstmarker in respectively the west and southwest.

Nowadays, Maastricht is widely known as a centre of tradition, history and culture, and popular with tourists for shopping and recreation. It is the location for various educational, with some partial to fully anglophone, establishments including the Maastricht Universitymarker (including the University College Maastricht), the Maastricht School of Management, parts of Zuyd University of Applied Sciencesmarker (including the Maastricht Conservatorymarker, Academy of Dramatic Arts Maastrichtmarker and Hotelschool Maastricht) and a United World College. Consequently the city has a large international student population.


The city's name is derived from Latin Trajectum ad Mosam or Mosae Trajectum, meaning "Mosa-crossing", and refers to the bridge over the Meuse river built by the Romans during the reign of Augustus Caesar.

A resident of the city is referred to as a Maastrichtenaar in Dutch whilst in the local Maastrichtian dialect as either a Mestreechteneer or the colloquial Sjeng (derived from the French name Jean).

Panorama view from the Sint-Janskerk.jpg

"Oldest city of the Netherlands" dispute

There is some discussion as to whether Maastricht is the oldest city of the Netherlands: By some Nijmegenmarker is considered to be the oldest mainly because it was the first settlement in the Netherlands to receive Roman city rights. Maastricht never received Roman city rights but as a settlement it may be considerably older.

The Maastricht claim is furthermore based on the city's unbroken chain of habitation since Roman times. A large number of archeological finds confirms this. Nijmegen has a gap in its history: There is practically no evidence of habitation in the early Middle Ages.


A view of the public park in Maastricht.
Maastricht, church: Sint Servaasbasiliek
Paleolithic remains have been found to the west of Maastricht, between 8,000 and 25,000 years old. Celts lived here at least 500 years before the Romans came, at a spot where the river Meusemarker was shallow and therefore easy to cross. The Romans later built a bridge and a large road to connect the capitals of the Nervians and Tungri, Bavaymarker and Tongerenmarker, with the capital of the Ubians, Cologne.

A 13th-century town-gate: the Helpoort or Hell's Gate.

Saint Servatius was the first bishop of the Netherlands.His tomb, in the crypt at the Basilica of Saint Servatiusmarker, is a favoured place of pilgrimage: Pope John Paul II visited it in 1985. The golden gilt shrine containing some of the saint's relics is carried around the town every seven years. The city remained an early Christian bishopric until it lost this position to nearby Liègemarker in the 8th century.

Middle Ages

In the early Middle Ages Maastricht was part of the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. It later developed into a city of dual authority, a condominium , with both the Prince-Bishopric of Liègemarker and the Duchy of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. It received city rights in 1204.

The role of the Dukes was occupied by the Dutch States General from 1632 onwards when the city was taken from the Spanishmarker by Frederik Hendrik. The important strategic location of Maastricht in the Dutch Republic resulted in an impressive array of fortifications around the city.

Bulwark of the Netherlands

The most famous Siege of Maastrichtmarker occurred here during the month of June, 1673 as part of the Franco-Dutch War, because French battle supply lines were being threatened. During this siege, one of history's most famous military engineers, Vauban, synthesized the methods of attacking strong places, in order to break down the fortifications surrounding Maastricht. His introduction of a systematic approach by parallels resulted in a rapid breaching of the city's fortifications. (This technique, in principle, has remained until the 20th century the standard method of attacking a fortress.)

After the breaching of the fortifications occurred, Louis XIV's troops started to surround the city of Maastricht. Under the leadership of Captain-Lieutenant Charles de Batz de Castelmore, also known as Comte d'Artagnan, the historical basis for Alexandre Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances, the First Company of Mousquetaires du Roi prepared to storm a rampart located in front of one of the city's gates. D'Artagnan was killed by a musket shot on 25 June 1673 during a night attack on the Tongerse Gate (this event was portrayed in Dumas' novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne).

Maastricht surrendered to French troops on 30 June. The French troops occupied the Dutch city from 1673 to 1678. It was subsequently restored to Dutch rule. The French again took the city in 1748 as part of the War of Austrian Succession, and again the city was restored to the Dutch that same year. The French would return once more in 1794, when they annexed the city to what would become the French Empire. Maastricht became the capital of the French département of Meuse-Inférieure.

Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Map of the Netherlands in 1843 after Belgian independence and retrocession of Limburg.
After the Napoleonic era, Maastricht became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 and the capital of the newly formed Province of Limburg. When the southern provinces sought independence from the North to form Belgiummarker in 1830, the garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king, though the surrounding countryside came under Belgian control. Arbitration by the Great Powers in 1831 awarded the city and the eastern part of Limburg, despite being geographically and culturally closer to Belgium, to the Netherlands and the rest to Belgium. The North and the South did not initially agree to this and it would not be until the 1839 Treaty of London that this arrangement became permanent.

Because of the resulting eccentric location Maastricht often remained more focused on Belgium and Germanymarker than on the rest of the Netherlands. Due to its proximity to the Walloon industrial basin, Maastricht industrialised earlier than most of the Netherlands. It thus retained a distinct non-Dutch character until the First World War forced the city to look northwards.

20th century

The city did not escape World War II: it was quickly taken by the Germans on 10 May 1940 during the Battle of Maastricht, but on 14 September 1944, Maastricht was the first Dutch city to be liberated by allied forces.

The latter half of the century saw a decline of the traditional industries and a shift to more services-oriented economy. Maastricht Universitymarker was founded in 1976. In 1992, the Maastricht treaty was negotiated and signed here, leading to the creation of the European Union and the Euro.

21st century

In recent years, several international conferences were held in Maastricht, like the OSCE-summit in 2003, and several other gatherings during the Dutch chairmanship of the European Union in 2004.

Under current mayor Gerd Leers, Maastricht has launched a campaign against various drug-related problems. The popular and often-praised Leers instigated a controversial plan to move several of the coffee shops - where soft drugs can be purchased in limited quantities - from the center to locations on the outskirts of Maastricht, in a bid to stop (foreign) buyers from entering the city and causing trouble.

However, the plan did not go down well with neighboring municipalities, who fear the problems may simply come their way. As of July 2008, it is uncertain if the so-called 'coffee corner' will indeed be created on the periphery of Maastricht, a determined mayor notwithstanding.

On a more positive note, large parts of the city center were thoroughly refurbished under Mayor Leers, including the area near the railway station, the Market Square, the Entre Deux shopping center and the Maasboulevard. Maastricht looks notably fresher as a result and more large-scale projects are underway, such as the redevelopment of the Sphinx and Belvedère areas.

Institutions and education


  • Administration of the Dutch province of Limburgmarker;
  • Rijksarchief Limburg - archive of the province of Limburg;

Secondary eduction

Tertiary education

Economic aspect

Centre Céramique, the public library of Maastricht.

Private companies settled in Maastricht include:

  • ENCI - cement industry
  • Sappi - South African Pulp and Paper Industry
  • Hewlett-Packard - previously Indigo, manufacturer of electronic data systems
  • Vodafone - mobile phone company
  • DHL - international express mail services
  • Mercedes-Benz - customer contact center for Europe
  • Pie Medical - manufacturer of medical equipment
  • CardioTek - manufacturer of medical equipment for Cardiac electrophysiology procedures
  • BioPartner Center Maastricht - life sciences spin-off companies
  • European Journalism Centre- nonprofit media center
  • Eurocontrol - European Organisation for the Safety and Operation of European Airspace


The Lang Grachtje street in Maastricht.

Maastricht consists of over 40 neighbourhoods. These are in alphabetical order:

  • Amby
  • Beatrixhaven, Belfort, Belved√®re, Biesland, Binnenstad (the city centre), Borgharen, Boschpoort, Boschstraatkwartier, Bosscherveld, Brusselsepoort
  • Caberg, Campagne, C√©ramique
  • Daalhof, De Heeg
  • Eyldergaard
  • Hazendans, Heer, Heugem, Heugemerveld
  • Itteren
  • Jekerdal, Jekerkwartier
  • Kommelkwartier
  • Limmel
  • Malberg, Malpertuis, Mariaberg
  • Nazareth
  • Oud-Caberg
  • Pottenberg
  • Randwyck
  • Scharn, Sint Maartenspoort, Sint Pieter, Statenkwartier
  • Villapark
  • Vroendaal
  • Wittevrouwenveld, Wolder, Wyck, Wyckerpoort

Neighbourhoods have a number which corresponds to the postal code.

Amby, Borgharen, Heer, Itteren, Limmel, Oud-Caberg, Scharn, Sint Pieter and Wolder all used to be separate municipalities or villages until they were annexed by Maastricht.


Election results of 2006: council seats
Party Seats Compared to 2002
PvdA 13 +5
CDA 7 -4
GroenLinks 5 0
VVD 3(4) -1
SP 3 +1
Senioren 3 0
D66 2 0
Stadsbelangen 2 -1
Liberalen Maastricht 1 0
Total 39 ‚Äď

The municipal government of Maastricht consists of a city council, a mayor and a number of aldermen. The city council, a 39-member legislative body directly elected for four years, appoints the aldermen on the basis of a coalition agreement between two or more parties after each election. The 2006 municipal elections in the Netherlands were, as often, dominated by national politics and led to a shift from right to left throughout the country. In Maastricht, the traditional broad governing coalition of Christian Democrats (CDA), Labour (PvdA), Greens (GroenLinks) and Liberals (VVD) was replaced by a centre-left coalition of Labour, Christian Democrats and Greens. Two Labour aldermen were appointed, along with one Christian Democrat and one Green alderman. Due to internal disagreements, one of the VVD council members left the party in 2005 and formed a new liberal group in 2006 (Liberalen Maastricht). The other opposition parties in the current city council are the Socialist Party (SP), the Democrats (D66) and two local parties (Stadsbelangen and Seniorenpartij).

The aldermen and the mayor make up the executive branch of the municipal government. The mayor of Maastricht is Gerd Leers, a Christian Democrat, who was appointed by the Crown, upon recommendation by the city council, for his second six-year term in 2008. Later that year, Leers was one of the candidates to become mayor of the city of Rotterdam. The city council, however, chose the former Amsterdam alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb to become Rotterdam's next mayor.

One controversial issue which has characterized Maastricht politics for years and which has also affected national and even international politics, is the city's approach to soft drug policy. Under the pragmatic Dutch soft drug policy, a policy of non-enforcement, individuals may buy and use cannabis under certain conditions from so-called 'coffeeshops' (cannabis bars). Maastricht, like many other border towns, has seen an growing influx of so-called 'drug tourists', mainly young people from Belgium and France, who provide a large amount of revenue for the coffeeshops in the city centre. The city government, most notably mayor Leers, have been actively promoting drug policy reform in order to deal with its negative side effects.

Under one of the latest proposals, the so-called 'CoffeeCorner' plan proposed by mayor Leers, the city council unanimously voted in November 2008 to relocate most of its coffeeshops from the city centre to the outer limits of the municipality, where the sale and use of cannabis can more easily be monitored. The purpose of this plan is to reduce the effects of drug tourism on the city centre, such as parking problems as well as the more serious issue of the illegal sale of hard drugs by so-called 'drug runners' in the vicinity of the coffeeshops. The CoffeeCorner plan, however, has met with fearce opposition from neighbouring municipalities and from the national government in the Netherlands, where the Christian Democrats take a notably more conservative approach to soft drugs than their local party and mayor. Bordering towns and the federal government in Belgium have also opposed the city's policy, citing Maastricht's plan to move the coffeeshops towards the Belgian borders as a violation of European law. The plan has been the subject of various legal challenges and has not yet been carried out.


  • In football, Maastricht is represented by MVV (Maastrichtse Voetbal Vereniging), currently playing in the Dutch first division - which is actually the second for the top-level division is known as Eredivisie or Honorary division. MVV plays in the Geusseltmarker stadium near the A2 motorway.

  • Maastricht has been the traditional starting place of the annual Amstel Gold Race - the only Dutch cycling classic - since 1998. From 1991 to 2002, the race also finished in Maastricht, but since then the finale takes places on the Caubergmarker in Valkenburg.


By car

Maastricht is mainly served by the A2 and the A79 motorways. The city can be reached from Brusselsmarker and Cologne in approximately 1 hour and from Amsterdammarker in about 2.5 hours.

The A2 motorway that runs through Maastricht is heavily congested and increasingly causes air pollution in the urban area. A large tunnel currently being planned should solve these problems by 2016.

Due to the high number of visitors, parking in the city centre forms a major problem during weekends and bank holidays despite several large underground car parks. Parking fees are therefore deliberately kept high in order to incite visitors to use public transport or 'park & ride' facilities further away from the centre.

By train

Maastricht central station
The Dutch Railways serves both the main station of Maastrichtmarker and a station located near the business and university district (Maastricht Randwyckmarker). A railway branch passes through Maastricht that runs south to Liègemarker, Belgiummarker and north into the rest of The Netherlandsmarker, where it has a branch to Heerlenmarker. The old westbound railway line going to Hasseltmarker (Be), is currently being restored. As of June 2009, the Dutch part of this international line has been finished, with tests being conducted in July 2009. This line will also be Limburgmarker's first modern Tram-line. The Tram function (going through to Maastricht Randwyck), will be opened in 2012.

Intercity trains to the city of Alkmaarmarker or Schagenmarker in the province of North-Holland connect Maastricht directly with Eindhovenmarker, Den Boschmarker, Utrechtmarker, Amsterdammarker, and several other cities. Commuter trains furthermore cover the regional area, and an international intercity train connects Maastricht with Liègemarker and Brusselsmarker in Belgiummarker.

By airplane

Maastricht is served by nearby Maastricht Aachen Airportmarker - often known as Beek locally - with scheduled flights to Alicantemarker, Gironamarker, Pisamarker and popular holiday destinations (e.g. Turkeymarker) during the summer season. The airport is located about 10 kilometres north of Maastricht's centre.

By boat

Maastricht has a river port on the Meuse river, and is connected with Belgiummarker and the rest of the Netherlands through the Juliana Canalmarker and the Zuid-Willemsvaartmarker.

By bus

Various buslines serve the vast majority of the city and its suburbs. The regional bus network furthermore stretches to most parts of South Limburg as well as to Hasseltmarker, Tongerenmarker and Liègemarker in Belgiummarker, and Aachenmarker in Germanymarker.

Culture & tourism

Events & Festivals

  • Carnival (Dutch: Carnaval, Limburgish and Maastrichtian: Vastelaovend) - a traditional 3-day festival in the southern part of the Netherlands (Feb/March).
  • 11de van de 11de - the official start of the carnival season (November 11).
  • KunstTour - an annual art festival.
  • Amstel Gold Race - an annual large international cycling race with start in Maastricht (April).
  • TEFAF - The European Fine Art Fair is the world's leading art and antiques fair (March).
  • Preuvenemint - a large culinary event held on the Vrijthof square (August).
  • Winterland - a winter-themed fun fair and Christmas market held on the Vrijthof square (December/January).
  • Inkom - the traditional opening of the academic year and introduction for new students of Maastricht University (August).
  • Maastrichts Mooiste - an annual running and walking event.
  • Jazz Maastricht - a jazz festival formerly known as Jeker Jazz.
  • Jumping Indoor Maastricht - an international concours hippique.
  • Andr√© Rieu Vrijthof concerts- the famous Maastricht violin player and orchestra director Andr√© Rieu traditionally gives a series of concerts on Vrijthof square (Summer).

Furthermore, the Maastricht Exposition and Congress Centre (MECC) hosts many events throughout the year.

Museums in Maastricht

  • Bonnefanten Museummarker - the foremost museum for old masters and contemporary fine art in the province of Limburg.
  • Natuurhistorisch Museum - exhibits collections relating to geology, paleontology and the flora and fauna of Limburgmarker.
  • Spanish Government Museum - features several period rooms with 17th and 18th-century furnishings, silverwork, porcelain, pottery, glassware and so forth, and a collection of 17th and 18th-century Dutch paintings.
  • Derlon Hotel Museum - a museum with Roman remains, uniquely preserved in the basement underneath a hotel.

Sights of Maastricht

Maastricht is known for its picturesque squares, romantic streets, and historical buildings. The main sights include:

The Vrijthof square with Saint Servatius Basilica.

The Fortress of Sint Pieter on the hill of the same name.

The small Jeker river runs through the city.

  • City Fortifications, including:
    • Helpoort - a 13th century town gate, the oldest in the Netherlands.
    • fragments of the first and second medieval city walls.
    • Hoge Fronten (English: High Fronts) or Linie van Du Moulin - remnants of 17th-18th century fortifications with a number of well-preserved bastions and the early 19th century [fortress] Fort Willem.
    • Casemates - underground network of tunnels, built as sheltered emplacements for guns and cannons. These tunnels run for several miles underneath the city's fortifications. Guided tours available.

  • Markt - the Market Square was completely refurbished in 2006-2007 and is now virtually traffic free. Sights include:
    • town hall - built in the 17th century by Pieter Post.
    • Mosae Forum - a brandnew shopping centre and civic building designed by Jo Coenen and Bruno Albert. Included in Mosae Forum are MosaeGusto!, a 3.500 m¬≤ fine food market and Citro√ęn Miniature Cars, the world's largest exposition of Citro√ęn miniature cars inside Mosae Forum parking garage .

  • Entre Deux - a recently rebuilt shopping centre which has won several international awards. It includes a book store located inside a former Dominican church. In 2008 British newspaper The Guardian proclaimed this the world's most beautiful bookshop.

  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Plein - picturesque tree-lined square with an abundance of pavement cafes. Sights:
    • Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Basilica - 11th-century Basilica Minor.
    • Derlon Museumkelder - a small museum in the basement of the hotel Derlon with mainly Roman remains.

  • the Inner City - city centre and main shopping district, including Stokstraatkwartier, Maastrichter Brugstraat, Grote and Kleine Staat, and Wolfstraat. Maastricht is known for its caf√©s, pubs and restaurants.

  • Vrijthof - the best-known square in the city. Sights:
    • Theater aan het Vrijthof - main city theatre.
    • Sint-Servaas Basiliek - Romanesque church of Saint Servatius.
    • Sint-Janskerk - sandstone Gothic church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist with distinctive red tower.

  • Sint-Pietersberg - a modest hill just South of the city, peaking at 171 metres above sea level. Sights:
    • Fort Sint-Pieter - an 18th-century fortress fully restored in 2008.
    • "Grotten Sint-Pietersberg (caves) - sandstone (marl) quarry with vast network of manmade tunnels. Guided tours available.
    • Ruine Lichtenberg - a farmstead containing a ruined medieval castle keep.
    • D'n Observant - artificial hilltop atop Sint-Pietersberg.

  • Bassin - an old and completely restored inner harbour with restaurants and caf√©s.

  • Parks - there are various parks in Maastricht. The more interesting ones:
    • Stadspark - the main public park on the West bank of the river.
    • Monsigneur Nolenspark - extension of Stadspark with remnants of medieval city walls.
    • Aldenhofpark - another extension of Stadspark with statue of d'Artagnan.
    • Charles Eykpark - modern park between the public library and Bonnefantenmuseum on the East bank of the Meuse river
    • Griendpark - modern park on the East bank of the river with inline-skating and skateboarding course.

The tourist information office (VVV) is located in the so-called Dinghuis - the 15th-century former town hall and law courts building at the intersection of Grote Staat and Kleine Staat.

Local anthem

In 2002 the municipal government officially adopted a local anthem (Dutch: Maastrichts Volkslied, Limburgish (Maastrichtian variant): Mestreechs Volksleed) composed of lyrics in Maastrichtian. The theme was originally written by Alfons Olterdissen (1865-1923) as finishing stanza of the Maastrichtian opera "Trijn de Begijn" of 1910.

Natives of Maastricht

See also People from Maastricht

International relations

Twin towns ‚ÄĒ Sister cities

Maastricht is twinned with:

See also


Image:Maastricht_2008_City_Hall.jpg|City HallImage:Maastricht_2008_City_Park_01.jpg|Public parkImage:Maastricht_2008_City_Park_02.jpg|Public parkImage:Maastricht_2008_OLV_Wall.jpg|Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe EmbankmentImage:Maastricht platz vor liebfrauenkirche.jpg|Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe SquareImage:Maastricht_2008_Father_Vink_Tower.jpg|Father Vink TowerImage:Maastricht_2008_Hells_Gate.jpg|Hells GateImage:Maastricht_2008_Jeker_River.jpg|Jeker riverImage:Maastricht_2008_Lang_Grachtje.jpg|Lang Grachtje streetImage:Maastricht_2008_Sint_Hilarius_Street.jpg|Saint Hilarius streetImage:Maastricht_2008_Vrijthof_Saint_Servatius_Basilica.jpg|Vrijthof & Saint Servatius BasilicaImage:Maastricht_2008_Saint_Servatius_Basilica.jpg|Saint Servatius BasilicaImage:St-servatius-basilica.jpg|Saint Servatius Basilica interiorImage:Sint Servaasbrug2.jpg|Saint Servatius BridgeImage:Maastricht_2008_Library.jpg|Public libraryImage:Maastricht_2008_Square_1992.jpg|Square 1992Image:Maastricht_neustadt.jpg|Square 1992Image:Bonnefantenmuseum.jpg|Bonnefanten MuseumImage:Maastricht_2008_Mosae_Forum.jpg|Mosae ForumImage:Maastricht_2008_High_Bridge.jpg|High BridgeImage:Maastricht_2008_Meuse_River.jpg|Meuse RiverImage:Dinghuis.jpg|DinghuisImage:Maastricht, station.gif|Train stationImage:Maastricht_2008_Sint_Pieter.jpg|Sint PieterImage:Maastricht_2008_Fortress_Sint_Pieter_01.jpg|Fortress Sint PieterImage:Maastricht_2008_Fortress_Sint_Pieter_02.jpg|Fortress Sint PieterImage:Maastricht_2008_Lichtenberg.jpg|Lichtenberg estateImage:Maastricht_2008_Enci_Quarry.jpg|ENCI Quarry


  1. VVV Maastricht
  2. Gnesotto, N. (1992). European union after Minsk and Maastricht. International Affairs. 68(2), 223-232.
  3. Coffee Corner: Dagblad de Limburger
  4. Cannabis Cafes Get Nudge to Fringes of a Dutch City, The New York Times, 20 August 2006.
  5. A2 tunnel fors duurder: Dagblad de Limburger
  6. Tramlijn: Dagblad de Limburger
  7. Tramverbinding tussen Nederland en Belgi√ę
  8. Entre Deux
  9. Top shelves: The Guardian
  10., 19 December 2006
  11., 31 January 2007

External links




Higher education and research

Resources for expatriates



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