These caves are off the beaten path from the center of town but it is walkable. I wish the VVV site had mentioned that the tour was not in English at all. The site is in English and the information on the ticket booth is in English so we had no idea. The tour guide mentioned it as we bought the ticket but by that time we had wasted so much time getting there that we didnt want to turn back.
Well, I enjoyed the caves for about 15 minutes of the 1 hour and 30min tour and then I got bored because the tour guide did not speak English. The pictures on the wall are very recent so not that mysterious. The caves are cool and creepy.
Fort St.Pieter lies at the northern point of Mount St.Pieter and was constructed in 1701. It rises up from a pentagonal base-plan- one edge is facing the direction of France - most feared enemy during the 18th century. Actually it is under reconstruction or renovation, paid by the European Community.
The picture is showing the basic plan- charcoal painted at the walls of the caves nearby
The St. Pietersburg caves are awesome. It's pretty impressive to see that every stone of the 7,000 route system was hand set. If the tour guide didn't have a flashlight and lanterns distributed throughout the group, it would be pitch black; you wouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face. And they show you what it's like.
Next to Maastricht you will find one of the highest 'mountains' in the Netherlands: Sint Pietersberg (just over 100 m). It is a limestone hill with green trees on top. The marlstone here was mined and caves originated through this mining. Today you can visit the caves, in which you will see bats and some rockart. For more info on visiting the caves see the touristinfo in Maastricht or their website: http://www.vvvmaastricht.nl/
It is also nice to walk on top of the mountain. There are beautifull viewpoints of the city and the surrounding country. And if you really like to walk you can also strat a trip here to Pieterburen in Groningen (455km) This longdistance track is called Pieterpad and can be walked in both directions. The track is marked by red and white rectangle signs.
It is a must - a topic to visit this so called "caves" near Maastricht. The history and importance is so fascinating. During the many sieges Maastricht has suffered, French (1700)- and German during the last world war, local inhabitants used the passages as a shelter; some of the emergency provisions are still to be seen, (backery and toilets).
The temperature in the caves is 9-10 degrees Celcius.
Professional guides will show you the importance of the caves during many periods, like the second worldwar, escaping gate or labyrint to Belgium for many English pilots. (Allo, Allo this is London calling!)
st. Pietersberg Caves (Grotten st. Pietersberg)
In the old days the people from Maastricht used a lot of marl to build their houses. The marl could be found in the hill called 'St. Pietersberg.' ('berg' means 'mountain' in Dutch; but considering the flatness of the rest of the country, it's not surprising that they call every small hill a Mountain in the South!)During the process of getting all this marl out of the hill, through the ages there arised a labyrinth of small tunnels. At this moment there are some 20.000 tunnels inside the hill. The man who were breaking the blocks of marl out of the hill, left their traces. Nowadays you can see on the walls of the tunnels interesting, moving messages, inscripts and even art, made by unknown artists. An other intersting feature is that these tunnels also expose lots of fossils, of fish and other animals who lived in that Maastricht regio millions of years ago!
Because of the fact that the tunnels and holes are located deep underground, they served as a safe place to hide for Maastricht citizens during several sieges of Maastricht (f.e. during w.w. 2: The caves were during this war used to hide Rembrands'famous Nachtwacht, so that the Germans could not lay their hands on it!) All the facilities underground, used by those people during those days, are still visible! Temperature in the caves is about 10 degr. C, so you better wear a warm sweater.
Just outside the city center you might encounter the St Pietersberg. In this hill caves were formed by excavating the interior. You can visit these caves at two points, the Northern Caves and the Zonneberg Caves. An experienced guide will take you on a 60 minute tour through the tunnels. On the way you will learn about the miners, the world war hide away and you will see several cave drawings.
Now I should add that these aren't actually caves, but tunnels. They were manmade by miners who cut out huge blocks of "mergel" stone. These blocks of stone would then be used to build houses. The tunnels date back to as early as the 15th century. You coul'nt possible visit all the tunnels, because there simply are too many.
The tours usually start at 12:30 and 14:00 - but in the summer there are more tours, every hour from 11:00 to 16:00. Tours start at either Luikerweg 71 or the Slavante Restaurant.
When you visit Maastricht, do not ever forget to visit the caves nearby... it can be visited by guided tours. Do not loose your group, the caves are like labyrinths and you may not find the way out. The caves are the result of centuries of excavation of marl, a building stone. What you now see is an enormous labyrinth of more than 20,000 passages.
The temperature in the caves is 9-10 degrees Celcius; therefore I advise you to take a pullover or coat with you.
From St Petersberg you can see from the distance almost all the Musts of Maastricht - Sint Servaasbasiliek (which is close to bazaar), tower of St. Jans of red color (very noticable), Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk.......
The famouse 'St. Pietersberg' caves are the result of centuries of excavation of marl, a building stone. What we now see is an enormous labyrinth of more than 20,000 passages. The stone-hewers have left their marks. On the walls are interesting inscriptions, some extremely old; artists too, have been at work here. During the many sieges Maastricht has suffered, and also during the last world war, local inhabitants used the passages as a shelter;some of the emergency provisions are still to be seen. The temperature in the caves is 9-10 degrees Celcius, visitors are therefore advised to take a cardigan, pullover or coat with them. The round-trips, which last about an hour, are led by official VVV Tourist Office guides. Two sections of the labyrinth of Mount St. Pieter are open to the public.
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