Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

May 2014: Maastricht

I indulged in a little bit of innocent, pre-departure amusement with this trip: I told people that I was going to fly into Brussels for the purpose of visiting two cities that were close neighbours of each other, yet situated in different countries, neither of which was Belgium. Upon receiving the almost inevitable blank look, I would follow up with the observation that, as far as this trip was concerned, I seemed to have acquired a 'double-A' fixation. At this point, a number of people successfully identified Maastricht as one of my destinations, but nobody ever managed to name its German, cross-border twin.

Most Europeans with any knowledge of current affairs and recent history will have heard of the Maastricht Treaty, the political agreement signed in 1992 which created the European Union and paved the way for the introduction of the Euro currency. But the town's history goes back much further than that. Having been originally settled around 500BC, Maastricht gained city status in the 13th century AD. Along with Nijmegen, it is one of the two oldest cities in the Netherlands. Today, Maastricht is the capital of the Netherlands' Limburg province. The city's name derives from the fact that it is a crossing point on the Meuse river (Dutch: Maas).

I found it a pleasant and attractive destination and liked the idea of being in a historically important place with a small-town feel. My 24-hour stay, while inevitably a little rushed, felt just about right. Specific highlights included the town hall, attractive squares such as Markt and Vrijthof, the medieval St Servatius Bridge and the strikingly modern High Bridge, the Bonnefanten and other museums and finally, various notable churches. (The Protestant church of St John the Baptist with its red tower, the adjacent Basilica of St Servatius and the nearby Basilica of Our Lady stand out in the latter category.)

Base: Crowne Plaza

Linked report from same trip: