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The Gronsveld Tower Windmill
This historic windmill is at Knooppunt 5, the fifth node of the South Limburg cycling network.
Though it is known as the Gronsveld Windmill, it is actually within the city limits of Maastricht, near the road (and cycle paths!) that lead south to the nearby town of Gronsveld.
Construction of this windmill was ordered by the local ruler, Count Joest Maximillian of Gronsveld, in 1618, but it was not completed until 1623. The base around the bottom of the windmill was not built until 1766.
At first I didn’t understand why this is called a Tower Windmill, but after flipping through some Dutch windmill photos on the internet I came to realize that it really is shaped like a tower and looks quite different from a typical Dutch windmill which is shaped more like an inverted cone.
Apparently there are only four or five tower windmills left in the Netherlands, so this one has the status of a protected monument.
Despite its advanced age, the Gronsveld Windmill still grinds grain for the local farmers and for people who like to bake their own bread.
The windmill was not moving when I was there (on a Tuesday), but they say it is open to visitors who wish to see it in operation every first and third Saturday of the month if the wind is strong enough, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In the Second World War the windmill suffered fire damage after a grenade explosion. Restoration work was carried out in 1959 and again in 1972.
Address: Rijksweg 90, 6228 XZ, Maastricht
Location on Google mapsRelated to:
- Historical Travel
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For some reason I neglected to take a photo of the sign at Knooppunt 4 (node 4 of the South Limburg cycling network), but this is where it is, at the corner of Köbbesweg and Hoge Weerd near a wide place in the river at the south end of Maastricht, just west of Gronsveld.
Across the river is a large cement factory called ENCI (Eerste Nederlandse Cement Industrie) (second, third and fourth photos), which turns out to be the largest cement factory in the Netherlands. ENCI has been producing cement in Maastricht since 1926, and directly employs 212 people.
I have since learned that this is an integrated cement plant, meaning that the full cement production process is carried out here. Limestone is mined from a 135-hectare open-air quarry directly behind the plant (clearly visible on aerial photographs as a huge white hole in the ground). In the plant, the limestone is burned in a kiln to make “clinker”, which is then ground into cement.
According to a European Union report, this is a very energy-intensive process. This plant alone, ENCI Maastricht, consumes nearly 1% of the total primary energy demand of the Netherlands. To reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the plant is increasingly using biomass waste as fuel.
Recently the ENCI company, the City of Maastricht and the Province of Limburg have agreed on a “Plan of Transformation” which stipulates that limestone quarrying will end in 2018. The quarry will be transformed into different zones for the countryside and recreation, including 60 hectares of natural biotopes.
GPS 50°48'47.91"N, 5°42'28.36"E
Location of Knooppunt 4 on Google maps
Boat trip on the river Maas
This is another way to see the Maastricht "skyline:" lyning there relaxed on the upperdeck of this boat, and seeing Maastricht passing by... You can get off the boat at the caves, that are at the southern part of the town, and visit the caves, you may also prefer a longer boat trip and let it take you to Liège, an interesting city about 30 km south of Maastricht. All these things can be arranged at the "Rederij Stiphout." They have many arrangements, i give you some ideas: A boat trip with a visit to the caves costs about 9 euro, a trip to Liège (return(!)-ticket) costs about 17 euro; but heij, if you want to do something romantic then you should go on a candleleight cruise, but this is reather expensive (about 43 euro)
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Walking along Grate Staat you can find on your left the Dominicanerkerk (Dominicans' church, in English). It was built in 1337 by the Dominicans and I was surprised to discover that nowdays it became a book shop. Inside the shop you can see on the vaults some fantastic frescos showing monks and saints.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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Go Mountain Climbing!
For an interesting day out from Maastricht a visit to the Netherlands' highest point of Vaalsberg is a must do. OK It's not really a mountain at 322 (and a bit) metres but the sheer novelty value of mountain-climbing in what is otherwise an almost totally flat country makes for a bit of fun.
There's no need to pack your ropes, pitons and crampons though as the ascent from the nearby town of Vaals is a gentle 2 km stroll even if you take the steepest walking route.
From the summit you get great views not just over the Netherlands but also Germany and Belgium as coincidentally the hilltop is also the point where the three countries meet. So not only can you visit the highest point but can also add two more countries to your travel pages at the same time.
At the top there's a couple of restaurants, a pair of overlook towers (if you want to get even higher), a kids play area, a VVV tourist office/souvenir shop and some interesting-looking hiking trails.
To get to Vaalserberg from Maastricht the #50 (I think) bus runs every 20 minutes or so from the main bus station to Vaals (which takes about 30 minutes). From Vaals walk uphill to the south along Kerkstraat (??) and follow the signs for Drielanerpunt.
The best value bus ticket is the "Dagkaart" which costs (July 2010) 5.50 Euros and is valid on all Limburg services for the day (including into Aachen). If you don't fancy the walk up I think there's also an hourly bus from Vaals up to Vaalserberg for which your day ticket is also valid.
Another interesting little stop-off on the route is the small town of Gulpen, best known for its Gulpener brewery, which has a couple of good cafe bars and is a pleasant little town in its own right too.Related to:
- Mountain Climbing
- Budget Travel
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The main attraction of Knooppunt 5 (the fifth node in the South Limburg cycle route network) is the Gronsveld Windmill, which is on the boundary between Gronsveld and Maastricht.
It would have been just a short ride to the town of Gronsveld (1.9 km to Knooppunt 73), and from there another short ride to Rijckholt (2.3 km to Knooppunt 74) or to Sint Geertruid (3.1 km to Knooppunt 72), but since I was there on a very hot day – the 95 % chocolate bar was melting in my backpack, as I later discovered – I decided to be sensible for a change and not over-do it, so from here I just went on to Knooppunt 4 and from there back into Maastricht.
Address: Rijksweg 90, Maastricht
Directions: 50°49'27"N 5°43'46"E
Location of Knooppunt 5 on Google maps
- Historical Travel
You don't need to venture any farther than the center of the city -- but most people do not notice the wonderful plates over many of the doors! Here is one from 1612! Some are quite interesting. So when in Maastricht, look up!
How to combine old and new
Very surprising, indeed. A new building has been built behind the walls of the former building, with respect for its safeguarding.
Click on the image and you'll see the inscription on the new building 'I am not like I was before". I bow to the constructor.Related to:
St Peters Gatehouse
There were several gates in the city walls. One of them was the St Peters Gate, close to Hell's Gate. Unfortunately this gate no longer exists. The gatehouse on the other hand is still standing. It's a beautiful brick house. It's style is unlike any other house in Maastricht. It was built in the 18th century. In the wall you can still see the iron safe where the key to the gate was stored.
You can see the house on St Pieters Straat.
A beautiful statue
Minckelers statue would be just a normal statue showing a guy if there wasn't something really special about it. This guy holds a real flame in his hand! You will find it next to Market Square and Town Hall. I was pretty impressed with the idea!Related to:
- Road Trip
The main place isn't the only place
Whenever anyone visits Maastricht, they always grab lunch or dinner in the famous Vrijthof. Don't get me wrong, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is euphoric, but it can get a bit expensive. A better option is to tour the city (or ask) to find Our Lady Square. It is another square which is smaller than the Vrijthof, but the food is just as good and if you stop for a moment and look around, you'll feel nice and relaxed. --
The Vrijthof is right next to the street, so you'll see bus tours, motorscooters, bicycles and cars going past. It can get loud sometimes. But in Our Lady Square, the only thing that comes by is the occasional car because it's tucked away off the main streets. It's cheaper, too! --
When I first arrived in the city, our tour guide told us that Our Lady Square was voted as the best Square in the Netherlands in 2005.
Take a stroll along wonderful Wijck
When you're in Maastricht, talk a walk around the old part of the city "Wijck".
Start at the train station and cross the street. On any given saturday there is a antique market in the street. Passing through this market you come to a roundabout, just continue straight ahead. Just after this roundabout there is a café called "Poshoorn" where you can eat a hearty soup, sandwich or have a fresh draft beer.
From here on, (the stationstraat) you can keep walking until you get to the bridge. Just before you reach it, there are 2 cross streets with a lot of nice restaurants, art galeries and little boutiques. Definately worth a visit.
If you take the last street on your left hand side (Rechtstraat) and walk through there, you get to the new part called Ceramique. This is where the new walking bridge is and the delicious coffee shop "Coffeelovers" (look at my tip!).
Defenately worth a visit! It´s a nice stroll through the old part oof town to cross over to the city center.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
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Bisschopsmolen - The watermill.
We kept on reading the sign that gave us a prospective of its historical magnificence. The earliest mention of this water mill on the northern arm of the Jeker River dates from the 11th century. It was then owned by Godfried van Bouillon and after his death passed into the hands of the Prince-Bishop of Liège. The alleyway Bisschopsmolengang leads you to the back of the building (wall dating from 1609), where you can view the mill’s waterwheel. In 2005, the old water mill was reunited with the adjoining traditional bakery.
We left the mill through the rear exit and here we had a splendid view of the watermill itself. We were told that Maastricht once had over 15 watermills on the northern and southern branch of the small river ‘Jeker’. If you look carefully you can see the remains of these watermills on the buildings along the two branches of the Jeker river. We entered the mill again and on our left side we saw a door leading to a bakery (watch the step!). We treaded ourself to a cup of coffee or tea and a slice of ‘vlaai’, a specialty of southern Limburg. It is a flat cake covered with fruit, a real treat!
Stenenbrug 1-3, 6211 HP, Maastricht.
Near the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein, follow the signs towards the Koestraat (Cow Street) and right there you can’t miss the beautiful red building.
The Bishop's Mill and the bakery are open tuesday untill saturday, from 09.30 hrs. till 18.00 hrs. On sunday open from 11.00 till 17.00 hrs.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Museum Visits
- Food and Dining
The Bisschopsmolen (Bishhop's Mill) is a big water mill in the centre of Maastricht. It dates back to the 17th century. On the outside you can see a huge wooden wheel, used to power the mill. The mill is powered by the river Jeker. The building itself dates back to the 11th century, when it was used by the famous Godfried de Bouillon.
Every second and fourth saturday of the month you can visit the mill from the inside. You can access the wooden wheel on the street called "Achter de oude Minderbroeders" near the church of Our Dear Lady. If you want to visit the mill you have to go to the street called "Stenen Brug". The mill is still in use to grind food for the cattle.
The other side of town
Maastricht has a bit of a problem. A luxury problem perhaps. The old centre is just too beautiful. Does that make sense? Perhaps not. The problem though is that most visitors head for the other side of the river as fast as they can, not paying much attention to Wyck, the part where the station is. Which is a shame, as Wyck has treasures of its own. There are numerous old buildings, the De Keyser brewery museum, old walls, numerous bars and restaurants etc. Take some time to discover Wyck! I know I should next time.
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