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The High Bridge
Favorite thing: This is the newest bridge in Maastricht, a bicycle and pedestrian bridge that was opened in 2003. It goes from Plein 1992 on the right bank of the river to the historic city center on the left.
When I first saw the name of this bridge, “De Hoeg Brögk”, I assumed it had been named after some prominent person called De Hoeg, perhaps a former mayor of Maastricht or maybe a French general or a wealthy Dutch industrialist. I made a mental note to look this up.
Eventually I did look it up (not because of the mental note, which I had forgotten, but because I noticed the name on the map again). It turns out that there was never anyone named De Hoeg (Hoeg, yes, but not De Hoeg).
“De Hoeg Brögk” is Maastricht dialect for “De Hoge Brug”, which in turn is Dutch for “The High Bridge”.
On some of my other tips I have mentioned “the De Hoeg Bridge”, but that turns out to be a pleonasm because the word de means the, so I’ve been writing “the The High Bridge”. Up to now I thought the Dutch word for the was het, which it is, but evidently the word de also means the. (So you can see how limited my Dutch is, LOL.)
In fact I have found a statement about this bridge which uses de and het, both meaning the, in the same sentence: “de brug ligt 10 meter boven de waterspiegel en het hoogste punt van de boog is 26 meter boven de waterspiegel.”
Which means: “the bridge is 10 meters above the water level and the highest point of the arch is 26 meters above the water.”
I’m sure there must be some simple rule about when to say de and when to say het in Dutch, but they both seem to be the definite article.
Be that as it may, the bridge really is ten meters above water level, so it is high enough to allow big ships to pass through. It is made entirely of steel and has an overall length of 261 meters.
The bridge was designed by the Belgian architect René Greisch (1929-2000) and was completed after he died by his company in Liège, just 30 km up the river.
The High Bridge has won two prizes, the Dutch Steel Award (Staalbouwprijs) in 2004 and the European Award for Steel Structures in 2005.
I used The High Bridge several times, both on foot and by bicycle, and found it extremely convenient because the Botel, where I was staying, was anchored just 95 meters upstream from the bridge.
At each end of the bridge there is a lift (second photo) in addition to a ramp and stairs.
GPS 50°50'46.13"N; 5°41'50.55"E
Location on Google maps
Favorite thing: The Centre Ceramique is the main building in the new area called Wijck. It's a modern building that houses the library, the city archives, a display of local pottery and changing exhibitions. It is located at the river Maas, on the side of the railway station.
At the foot of the Centre Ceramique, a new pedestrian bridge was opened this year. From here you can cross the river Maas to get to the city center.
Basillica of Our Lady
Favorite thing: The basilica of Our Lady is situated in the middle of the Onze lieve vrouwenplein (Our Lady square), its famous west front flanked by two round stepped towers. With to towering walls and loopholes, the basilica looks more like a fortified castle than a church.
The building dates right back to before the year 1000. The nave was built in the 12th century.
This is the oldest church of Maastricht.
The church formed the hub of Liege-governed.
Maastricht before the city’s walls where constructed in 1229. It is well worth having a look inside.
The most remarkable feature is the 12th century Romanesque choir, with its two-tier pillaring. Many of the capitals of the tower tier are decorated with old testament scenes.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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Another Friendly Bar For Your Morning Coffee
Favorite thing: if your wanderings take you down to the Helspoort and the old city walls on a chilly, damp, December morning then an ideal spot for a warming coffee is this intimate little street corner cafe/bar - Cafe de Pieter at Sint Pieterstraat 22.
With its walls adorned by original sketches and paintings the front room evokes one of those Parisienne cafes such as those frequented by the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec who would have bartered their works of art for meals and booze.
We just dropped in for a coffee and paid cash - a bargain at 2 Euros a cup, including a biccie. Service was friendly and around mid-morning there were only a couple of other customers. It does have the feel that it can get busier as the day progresses which may make it worth dropping in during the evening too but not this trip, alas.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Arts and Culture
- Beer Tasting
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The Maas/Meuse River
Favorite thing: The Maas, as it is called in Dutch and German (Meuse in French and English), is actually not a very busy river. I seem to have taken pictures of it mainly when something was going on, such as a barge passing through, but there were long periods when the river was just empty.
I assume it must have been much busier in the nineteenth century, when for several decades the Meuse Valley was the leading industrial region of continental Europe, especially further upstream in the Belgian (Wallonian) part of the valley.
As I have already mentioned in one of my Liège reviews, the Meuse or Maas is one of those confusing rivers that flow more or less from south to north, so that upstream is at the bottom end of the map and downstream is at the top. This means that if you are in Maastricht and want to go to Liège, you don’t know whether to say you are going up to Liège because it’s upstream or down to Liège because it’s lower on the map.
This confusion of course has more to do with our map-making conventions than with the river, since the river was here before we were.
In my first photo the barge Contentus is going downstream towards the historic St. Servaasbrug (Saint Servatius Bridge).
I took both photos from The High Bridge.
Favorite thing: What I always do when I am in a to me strange town, I go to the tourist information office to buy a city walk map, so I make sure I visit the most important spots.
Before I left to Maastricht I had a look at Maastricht pages of VT members and all of them had a picture of the information centre at their page, so to me it wasn’t to difficult to locate it.
The tourist information office in Maastricht is located at the “Dinghuis” a gothic courthouse constructed between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century.
The front is made from marl and namur stone.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
Favorite thing: The Helpoort can justifiably be called the oldest city gate in the Netherlands. This gate also formed part of the first medieval city wall.
The opening times of this little museum is form Easter to November between 1.30 to 4.30 p.m. free admission.
The exhibition displays the historical aspects of Maastricht’s fortifications.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
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Favorite thing: The Wilhelminabrug is a bridge that was built over the Meuse in the years 1930-1932. It is mainly for motor vehicles, but also has bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides.
Actually the original bridge had stone arches and looked somewhat similar to the much older Saint Servatius Bridge. But the original Wilhelmina Bridge was destroyed in the Second World War. In 1957-1960 it was finally re-built in an entirely different form, with three steel spans instead of five stone arches.
This is one of eight bridges in the Netherlands and Curaçao that were named after Wilhelmina (1880-1962) while she was the Queen regnant of the Netherlands. (Others are in Breda, 's-Hertogenbosch, Deventer, Leiden, Nieuwegein and Zaandam.)
Location of the Wilhelmina Bridge im Maastricht on Google maps
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: Maastricht is located at the river Maas, hence the name. On a sunny day it must be beautiful to stroll along the river and sit down in one of the many outside cafes. Unfortunately the day we were here was grey and cold so we only crossed a bridge for scenic views!
Favorite thing: When you walk the city walls you have a great look-out over the Monseigneur Nolenspark. A green area south of the walls. There are a lot of birds here like ducks and geese. It must be great to sit here in the summertime, to look at he walls and enjoy the sun with a can of beer or a bottle of wine!
No monument shall be McDonnaldisized
Favorite thing: Im quite happy that Maatricht gouvernment has a tough policy on monument maintenance. Commercial forces might be frustrated by the fact that it is not easy to over-billboard the old town and its historic buildings, one has to learn the lesson: Maastricht people dont seem to want the old town to be turned into a Times square or a Piccadilly Circus. i think that it is a good thing that Maastricht is not a victum of the McDonnaldization of the world! F.e - of course the maastricht people couldnt resist the capitalistic forces that were opposed on this innocent town, by the large corporations such as McDonnalds - but they forced them to adapt their standard design to the mere historic features of Maastricht architecture, in between which these corporations wanted to place their settlement. Very post modern!
The Maastricht Citywalk Part 1
Favorite thing: This citywalk contains some of the highlights of the city and takes about 2,5 hours. The walk connects the sights in a way, that you take the more picturesque streets that connect them. For specific info’s on the several sights read the information under “must see activities” I had to split this text into several parts, so just click under "General Tips" the sections Citywalks part 2, 3 etc. to continue your reading. You start your walk at the Dinghuis. Standing with your face against this building, you take the street is next to it on the left side (Jodenstraat;see picture). This street is one of the eldest streets of the city. You can see a few old houses that have big entrances (used to let coaches pass into the courtyard) with typical stone tablets above it. At nr 22 you find the Historic City printing office, that is still active, so it’s a kin of “living” museum. Go back to the Dinghuis and turn to the left, take the street called Kleine Staat, follow it and you get into the street called Kersenmarkt. You see on your right hand the café called “Mouton Blanc,” Look at the stone tablet on the building. This building used to be the first town hall of Maastricht, and is now a pub. It’s a funny trivia though, because its said that in Limburg nowadays much of politic decision -making finally happens after towncouncil-meetings, t.i. in the pubs! Go to the street on your left hand. Here you have the Maastrichter Smedenstraat and your entering the Stokstraat Kwartier At the end of the street you find the statue of the “Mestreechter Geis” There, you turn to the right and you find the “Stokstraat” In the old days the steet was called “Broodstraat”(Bread street), because all the bakers in town, had their shops here. Later it was called stokstraat (stok=baton) because of the scourge that took place at the prison, that has been situated in this steet in the old days. The street nowadays is one of the most expensive shoppingstreets in the country.
the Maastricht Citywalk part 3
Favorite thing: Now standing at the entrance of the Faliezusterpark, you can climb the stairs of the bastion of Rondeel de Vijf Koppen Standing at the top of it you see a gun. As you may have notices, guns are everywhere at the old citywall. From the top of the wall you have a good view on the bastion that lies under it. In summer it’s a cool oasis to relax, in winter when it is frozen it would be a nice place to skate; Now, you go down again, back to the park and turn to the right, crossing a small wooden bridge, entering the Monseigneur Nolenspark. There you can see the part of the wall, containing the Pater Vink toren and the towngate called Poort Waarachtig. This towngate is a huge one and is very impressive. On the other side of the gate you arrive at the Jekerkwartier Follow the road to the right and you enter the St. Pietersstraat. Halfway this street there’s on the left hand the street called “Lang Grachtje” were you find a part of the first townwall (13 th. Century). At the end of this street, turn to the left and you find the “Grote Looiersstraat,” were you find at nr 27 the St. Martinushofje, a little courtyard, containing 18 th. Century small white houses, that were used to accommodate the poor women of the town. At the end of the street, you can take a look at the Museum of Natural History or right a way turn to the right (Looiersgracht) and halfway this street you see on your left hand the “House on the river Jeker” This house with its beautiful façade, is the best example of the so called Maaslandse Renaissance stijl (see Wijck) Its an house that is build over a small river. At the end of the street you find yourself at the “Ezelmarkt.” On the left hand you find the Bontefantenbibliotheek, a building that used to be a convent, but is now serving as a University-building.
the Maastricht Citywalk part 4
Favorite thing: At the “ezelmarkt” you turn to the right (Lenculenstraat) at your left hand you find the entrance to the former Government building for the province of Limburg. (You can also enter it at the Bouillonstraat nr. 3). Nowadays the Faculty of Law is situated in this building. So, there s no entrance fee. At the end of the street, turn to the right and take the first street to the left. (Witmakerstraat). Then, you will arrive at a small crossraod, turn to the right. (Heidenstraat). Halfway, you have on your left hand a street called “Stenenbrug” there you can enter the Bischopsmolen. And there you also can find the Minderbroeders church. Minderbroeders were Franciscan friars, that build this church somewere in the 14 th. Century. During the days that the city was occupied by the foreign rulers, they formed resistance and were forced to leave town or were killed (like Pater Vink) The building itself is a beautiful example of Maasland Gothic style, a local variant of gothic. Nowadays the States record-office is located in the building. Now, go back to the Heidenstraat and continue to walk straight on, you will enter the Hondstraat, and at the end of it turn to the left (Bredestraat), were you get to the Vrijthof were you find the Sint Servaas basilica and the church of sint Jan and the town’s most important “café” the Vogelstruys. Have a break at one of the terraces on this square! It is said – though I ve never seen the statistics – that the people who sit at the terraces of the Vrijthof are the locals, where the people who frequent the terraces at the Onze lieve Vrouwenplein are more or less the non-locals (tourists and students).
Favorite thing: It's easy to see the citycentre by feet, because the most of the must sees are within walking distance. For me the river Maas and the St Servaasbridge are the landmarks with Wijck and the railwaystation at the eastbank and the historical citycentre at the westbank.
At a small shop opposite the railwaystation I bought a small citycentre map (8x5cm). This small map makes it easy to find your way wandering in the narrow and cosy streets in the old centre between the Onze Lieve Vrouwen Plein, the Vrijthof and Market square.
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