Saint Servaas or Servatius would not recognize the Roman City where he moved and died about 384 AD. Servaas lived in the Roman colony here but had served the Church in Tongers (now Belgium but then also a Roman colony).
After the death of Servatius a wooden place of worship was built on his grave. The church was built and destroyed over the years. However a major foundation of the current basilica was a church built in 1039. The church was changed over the years until in 1798 with the Frech Revolution the church became a warehouse for the army.
The present church was restored in 1858, then 1955, and from 1981 - 93.
You can tour the church and the church museaum ("treasury") for 3.50 Euros (2005)
If you walk around the market square you will notice this church. I was always atrackted to it because it is in the middle of a block of houses. The church was built in 1356 and was a protestant church from teh 17th to the 19th century. Right next to the church is a small chapel where you can say your prayers and light a candle.
The church of Sint Matthias (Church of St. Matthias, in English) is located on the north side of the markt. It was built at the end of the 14th century to expenses of the guild of the weavers. The facade was built in style Gothic Flamboyant.
I strongly recommend you to find for this one, as it's just outside the centre and you possibly will not bump into it by coincidence. Medieval monasteries in the Netherlands are extremely rare, especially in complete form and especially in cities. The former Kruisherenklooster has survived many centuries and is in a remarkably complete state. The complex forms a square around a courtyard, with the actual monastery forming three of its sides, and the monastery-church at the fourth side. The complex recently became a hotel. An expensive one.
This is the church of the Fransiscans. It is also called Minderbroeders Kerk in Dutch. This church was first built as a monestary in 1298. After that it has also been used for military reasons. Nowadays it is used for the State Archives, called Rijksarchief.
Poor old St. Lambertus. Imagine being the only saint to originate from Maastricht and having to see the one church they named after you falling apart. Let's hope he won't ever find out just how proud his city is of him.
This church was built at the wrong time and place. Architect J.H.H. van Groenendael made a design that immediately was criticised for being too conservative. When work started in 1913 they failed to secure the ground underneath, which had been part of a fortress before. And when the First World War broke out they should have stopped building it, until quality materials became available again. Instead they built it out of rubbish. The big doors were made of planks that had been used by the German army for a bridge in Belgium. At least the planks were quality material. The stones weren't.
In 1916 the church was completed. Cracks appeared shortly after. After many repairs the church closed in 1985. Temprarily, so they said, until the problems had been resolved. It had become too dangerous to use. At nights it is illuminated, and it looks very proud. But inside the sight must be horrible. Recently it was decided that it will never be a church again but will be rebuilt into offices instead. I preferred the plan which would turn it into an indoor cemetery but am glad that it's going to be saved after all.
This former church is called the Eerste Minderbroederskerk, which in English roughly translates to 'First Franciscan friars church'. In appearance this church is very similar to the Dominicans church, and dates from the same period. The order of the Franciscan friars was driven out of the city twice, and this building has been used as a barracks for a long time. In 1880 monastery and church were given their current function of provincial archive. A second Minderbroederskerk was built in the 17th century elsewhere in the city.
Maastricht is a marvelous place. However, the centre has an extremely ugly part. It's a big building which is way too modern and much too large and that used to be a museum but is now a shopping-centre. Behind it is the former Dominicans church, a church in Gothic style from the 13th century and one of the oldest Gothic churches of The Netherlands. Such a nice building, shame about its environment. It is now a guarded bicycle parking but during two of my previous visits there was an exhibition of snakes, spiders and other creepy creatures.
The St. Matthiaskerk originates from the 14th century, with several parts added in the following centuries. As is very usual in this part of the country, most of the church is constructed using marl from one of the nearby marl pits. Unfortunately apart from the tower little of the church exterior is visible.
One of the first things to strike anyone entering the city by train is the impressive dome of this relatively recent church, which is located just behind the station. It's the Heilig-Hartkerk ('Church of the Sacred Heart') from ca. 1920. Unusual for that time, it's mostly built out of concrete and then covered with natural stone, and was the subject of much criticism. Two towers that were in the original plan were never built.
One of only a very few churches in the Netherlands that were built in the Baroque style is the Augustijnenkerk (Church of the Augustinians) from 1661. It is no longer in use as a church, and now serves a famous local choir as a rehearsal-room.
The Walloon church dates from 1732-1733. It consists of a centralized space of twelve sides and a simple tower of about the same height as the church itself. It was designed by Thomas Comhaire, an architect from Luik/Liège and replaced a medieval chapel which had stood on this location and had been used as a Walloon church previously. But as the Walloon community grew, this chapel became too small, especially when in 1685 many French Huguenots fled to Maastricht. Although the descendants of the Wallonians and French refugees have integrated in the local society long since, ad often aren't even protestants themselves, in this church there are still regularly services in the French language.
The kapitels (colums) of the Onze Lieve Vrouwen Basilic is famous. They are located at the east side of the church. The column of Heimo is well known for being a piece of outstanding crafmenship. It had a decorative function as well telling pilgrims a religious message that thet easily could understand. The interesting thing about the column is the inscription “ S. Maria Heimo.” We see a man devoting Maria on his knees, who offers a decorated kapitel. Thus we know that this man was called Heimo and he is the one who sculpted the column. But this means he signed his art work, which is highly unusual in the middle ages. What we do know, is that the sculpter came from Italy. It is a lot of resemblance between north-italian columsn and the ones in this church. Whatever the craftmen intention was, he made himself eternal by depicting himself at the kapital. Nota bene, at the Sint Servaas church, a column is even used for making eternal some citizens who are still alive these days: the men who where in the board of the Sint Servaas church’s ‘ restauratie stichting’ And also in stone tables of this church, such as at the entrance and in the treasure room, you find names of cntemporary citizens, that will live on in the church forever. At another Kapital in the Onze Lieve Vrouwen church, you can see craftsmen depicted by a text: operarii lapis: meaning stone craftsman. As the church got renovated by Pierre Cuypers, the columns got its black colour.
Jan Van Steffensweert was a sculpter who lived in the 16 th century. He was a wood-carver, and he made some 14 wooden sculptures, highly art quality. In the Onze Lieve Vrouwen Church you can see a depiction of Jezus, Maria and Anna. Also a big St Cristoffel can be seen, of which people believed that looking at this stataue saved them from dying for that day. Since most masses were in latin, the culture of pictures was important. People could undertand then better. The paintings, sculptures and windows with pictures were like a bible. Steffenwert was good it depicting the bible in his way: he portraited the bible in everyday life images. Jan was born in about 1460 and probably his family is from Stevensweert. He lived in the Maria straat. He could profit from the ecomomic wealth: many cloisters and churches demanded new sculptures. Because he was so qualified, he had a lot of orders, and thus became famous. Even abroad he got respect. Aachen asked him to make a Marianum, which was decorating the Aachner Dom. In 1532 Steffeswert died.
In times of disaster, war, bad harvest, the nood kist (emergency “ box” ) was carried around the town, passing by all churches. This happened for the fisrt time in 1409. The box dates form the 12 th century, is wood and copper, and decorated. It carries relics. Pieces of clothes Servaas woar. The nood kist can be found in the treasure room of the St Servaas church, and is still carried around town during the Heiligdomsvaard, a procession held each 7 years. The decorations of the nood kist depict the Final Judgement, it shows Jezus, on his trown. At the sides, twice 6 apostles are depicted. The ornaments on top of the “ roof” depict the execution of the Final Judgement: survivors are depicted. Angels are also to be seen, they guared Jezus’s grave tomb. The left roof shows the damned, whereas angles take off their baptising clothes. The closing side of the box shows St Servaas who receives the cloth of eternal life