Maastricht and surroundingsExpats often have a stressful and busy job, and the relaxed lifestyle of Maastricht and its surroundings can offer a welcoming change from their work.
Maastricht, at the southernmost tip of the Netherlands, is not only the capital of the province of Limburg but also the de facto capital of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. It is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands with a rich cultural history and a many monuments and attractions. Besides being a magnet for lovers of art and culture, Maastricht is also an exciting and vibrant city for shopping, studying, business and staging events.
A great many different cultures have had an impact on Maastricht, including the Romans, the Spanish, and the French as well as people from the more northern provinces of Holland. The presence of these various Latin and Germanic 'invaders' - which often lasted for centuries - has contributed to making Maastricht what it is today: a very special and multifaceted city with its very own 'couleur locale', that still combines the very best of Southern European as well as northern European culture.
A great many monumental buildings reflect the rich and varied history of the city. The best known of these include the famous 'twin church' consisting of the Sint-Servaasbasiliek (Basilica of St. Servatius) and the Sint-Janskerk (St. John's Church) alongside the Vrijthof square, the 17th century City Hall building on the Markt (Market Square) and the centuries-old Onze-Lieve-Vrouwebasiliek (Basilica of Our Lady) alongside the Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein Square. If you visit these, you will also have visited the three best-known squares in the city.
Centre of art and culture
In the 21st century, Maastricht is particularly well known as a centre for science, art and culture, as reflected in the presence of various institutions such as the University Hospital of Maastricht, Maastricht University and a great many museums and local associations. It should therefore come as no surprise that Maastricht is also a candidate for being named the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018.
Shopping city and culinary centre
Shopping in Maastricht is an experience. The shopping heart of the city is actually quite compact and, while shopping, visitors can admire many of the local monuments and other attractions. The exclusive Stokstraat shopping district is also a must for shoppers and window shoppers alike. An afternoon of shopping can also easily be combined with visits to one or more of the many local cafés and restaurants.
Each year, Maastricht hosts a great many events and festivals, with the international TEFAF Maastricht art and antiques fair as the absolute topper. Highlights on the local agenda include the famous Carnival (street and pub) festivities, the Preuvenemint culinary festival, and the annual open-air concert presented by the world-famous conductor/violinist and born and bred Maastricht native, André Rieu.
Heart of the Euregion
Maastricht is located in the heart of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion, a cross-border area with a diversity of cultures and approximately 4 million inhabitants as well as cities such as Aachen (Germany), Liège and Hasselt (Belgium) within its borders. All three of these historic cities are only about 30 min. away from Maastricht by car. Due to its location in the heart of Western Europe, Maastricht also has fast transport links to major cities such as Brussels, Cologne and Paris.
The Hill Country
Once you leave the city, you will be surrounded by a landscape that looks not at all Dutch: the gently rolling Hill Country shaped by the foothills of the low lying Eifel-Ardennes mountain range. With its valleys, winding streams, forested hillsides and beautiful views, this region is the perfect place for hiking and cycling and for relaxing after a hectic day in the city.
Besides the Hill Country, South Limburg also consists of the 'Westelijke Mijnstreek' (Western Mining District) region and the Parkstad Limburg region, which contain three of the most popular regional attractions: the indoor ski run SnowWorld, the GaiaZOO animal Park and the Mondo Verde theme park with its global gardens. The three-day Pinkpop festival, the oldest open-air festival in the world, is held each year in Landgraaf.