City walls, Maastricht
In 1516 the fortifications of Maastricht were enlarged with two bastions because of the development of a new type of canon which needed more space around to use it. The names of the two bastions are the ´Vijf koppen´ (the five heads) and ´Haet ende Nijt´ (hate and envy). The first bastion is named after the 5 heads of pater Vink and four other condemned which were placed at this bastion after their execution.
Despite the cruel history this area is now a lovely area to walk around. You can walk down in the park with a nice view at the fortifications from the outside. You can also climb up the walls and fortifications from where you have a nice view at the park and can see the canons.
Between the two bastions you have the ´Poort Waerachtig´, not a part of the original wall from the 14th century, but ´newly´ built in 1888.
The Onze Lieve Vrouwe Wal (Wall of Our Dearl Lady) is part of the first city walls in Maastricht. It was built in 1229 when de Duke of Brabant gave the people of Maastricht the right to build a city wall. Later on more walls were built to extend the city, but this wall was always used as a defence mechanism.
You can walk on top of the wall to get to Hell's Gate. On the bottom of it you can see several authentic canons.
Helpoort (hell gate) is an old tower (built 1229) that is part of the old city walls. You can walk up some steep stairs to have a look from up there. There's also a nice yard here surrounded by walls and two towers.
As Maastricht once used to be a fortified city there are still some city walls left. I liked walking along them because you get nice views and a walk in the green.
Next to the walls you will find many old houses and historic buildings like this old monastery.
City walls defending the old city - builded by the Romans. A so called "Poort" in dutch or "Portal" in english.
The word "Portare" is the basic - the builders of a new roman city, first carved the borderlines of their new "Camp". The place to install an entrance was never carved - the workers lifted/portered their carving machinery.
The Pater Vinktoren tower, where the heads of five inhabitants of Maastricht who had helped the hated Spanish were displayed, has been reconstructed, and a small section of defences around the tower remain
Helpoort (Gateway of the Hell, in English) is a wonderful tower built in 1229. It was part of the first city walls built in the 11th century. It is the anciest Dutch gateway and the only one that survive in Maastricht. Inside it there is a museum about the story of the Dutch fortifications and the history of the town.
The Pater Vinck Toren (Dutch for Tower of Father Vinck) used to be part of the second city walls. At this spot the second city walls connected with the first walls. These second city walls were built around the year 1300.
The tower itself was designed by the architect Spenger. The second city wall, attached to the tower, has been torn down. But the first city wall, connecting the tower to Hell's Gate is still standing upright.
After being renovated in 1906, the tower got it's name. It's named after the Fransiscan father, Servatius Vinck. He was sentenced to death and executed in 1638, on account of treason. Later he was found not guilty, but of course it was too late for him.
The Helpoort (Gate of Hell) was built in 1229 and is the oldest of the remaining gates in the Netherlands. It is part of the first walls that fortified the city. Above the gate you can see some pieces of wood painted red. From here the enemy was besieged, before they could even enter the city at all.
When you are 'inside' of the city-walls, you are standing in the St. Bernardusstraat. Right where you come off the O.L.V.-wal you can find a plate that will tell you all about the city walls. Very interesting. I''m not sure if it's in English too, but there is also a picture, so you can figure is out ;-)
During its existence maastricht has had several townwalls. The first medieval townwall was buid in the 13. th. century. As Maastricht expanded it had to build new walls, as it did in the 14 th. en 16 th.century. The walls are still visible. Large parts of the second townwall f.e. are still intact and can be explored. Many of the historic towngates are also in tact. The walls and gates and certain hisoric buildings next to these walls can be found at differrent locations in the city. These locations are the "Onze lieve vrouwenwal," - (there you'll find also the "Helpoort") - Lang Grachtje, Waterpoortje, Stenen Wal, Pater Vinktoren, and de bastion "Vijf Koppen" Most walls are accessible. There are stairs that lead up to the walls; you can find them f.e. near the Helpoort.
The pater Vinktoren is an interesting feature of the old townwalls. This tower is situated next to a part of an old townwall with two round bastions, that tell an important historic tale. The bastion called "The five heads" reffers to a crude event, somewhere in the 17 th. century, when a father, called Vink, was decapitated for conspiracy with the Spanish. His head - together with the heads ofhis four accomplices, were put on sticks at the round bastion as a statement to scare the Maastricht people. The tower in which he was prisoned untill that very moment is the Pater Vink toren and the round bastion called
"Five heads" was the place of action. Nowadays, the place is a peacefull, quied place, surrounded by a beautifull park. Sitting at the top of the old round bastion you'd probably feel more relaxed than Vink did during his last minutes...
This defence tower belongs to the second city walls that are conncected to the first ones at this place. The second city walls werebuilt between 1350 and 1375. The tower was restored in 1906 in roman style and it was at that time the tower got the name that is still used now. This name refers to Servatius Vinck, who was accused for being a traitor of the city to the Spaniards in 1638.
Due to its strategic importance as a river crossing in Medieval times Maastricht was a walled city and during this period was variously occupied by the Dutch, the French and the Spanish. Several seiges were laid on the city with each resulting in breaches and refortifications.
After the 1839 Treaty of London when Maastricht, and the Limburg Province, became officially part of the Netherlands the walls became a constraint on the city's industrial expansion and were mostly dismantled leaving only short stretches here and there.
The most intact stretch is that which runs through the Stadspark and the ramparts themselves have been turned into a well-tended horticultural footpath which during my visit in early July was a riot of vibrant colours and scents.
Close to the Helpoort you can see the Walmuur which the best example of the city walls of the town. They were built in 1229 to protect from razzie. They had watch tower to regular intervals (you can still see some of them nowdays) and of the walks of watch for the watches.
In front of the fortifications you can see some guns of the 17th century.
These are remains of the 1st town wall, they can be found in St. Pieterstraat or nearby, anyway if you decide to go to St. Petersberg and start from the center, you'll hardly miss this wall on the way to the Southern boundaries of the town....
I found out that some people live in the wall (?) or at least have house entrances cut thru it, coz i noticed a couple of doors with doorbells... hm, strange... :))