Before I even arrived in Maastricht, the feeling of my month in the Netherlands all coming together to an end was strong. This month has challenged my understanding of geography in so many ways and this is also represented by Maastricht which is right at the tip of the Netherlands close to the borders with Belgium and Germany.
Walking around Maastricht, I was struck with how French it felt to me too. In fact, you could easily believe you were in so many different countries due to the architecture but especially due to all the accents and languages you hear around you. In a way my time in Maastricht also summed up what I had seen and experienced during the month.
I’ve done so many sightseeing tours, a mixture of walking tours and bus tours and Maastricht brought about a different tour through the streets as we travelled through the streets on a solar powered tourist train. The driver’s kindness reminded me of many times during the month when I had been helped or treated kindly by people I didn’t know.
This was one place where I didn’t need to go into museums or exhibitions as just looking at the architecture was enough as there are so many different styles on offer that you can lose yourself in the churches, government buildings and even the shops. As they were preparing for their Christmas celebrations, Vrijthof square was being turned into their Christmas market area. I could only imagine in summer how amazing it is to sit outside one of the cafés watching the world go by or even better attending one on André Rieu’s concerts.
There were many churches around, some closed so I couldn’t go in and explore, light a candle or pray (and yes it probably would be in that order). Those I did get to see were amazing in their own right. For example, the bell and the floor stand out in St Servaas church.
However, the place of worship which really stood out to me was the entrance to the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Our Lady) . The church itself is beautiful inside and probably more so because you are requested to be respectful and not take any photos which is perfect. The entrance is where it all seems to happen though as it is the shrine to the star of the sea (Our Lady) and there was a steady flow of people coming to light a candle, sit for a while or just say a prayer and go. there were so many people coming that when I left I asked someone in a café if it was a special day or if that happened every day and she replied that it was a regular occurrence. Beautiful!
There is lots more to enjoy in Maastricht and I can imagine returning during the summer months when there will no doubt be a completely different atmosphere. There are some extra bits I’ll share in the next post when I summarise the last 4 cities I visited in the Netherlands.
If you happen to be there between now and January, then please visit a photo exhibition on Pesten (Bullying) I didn’t get to see as it was due to start yesterday, 2nd December and I left the evening of the 30th November.