Streets & neighbourhoods, Maastricht
The Wijck area lies between the railwaystation and the Maas, river opposite the old citycentre. The name Wijck comes originally from the Roman word ' Vicus', meaning suburb. This area at the eastern side of the river Maas was a suburban area in the Roman times.
In Wijck you can find some wide avenues lined with trees and large houses. Walking here gives you the feeling being in Brussel or Paris. In Wijck you can find some interesting restaurants and shops. At saturday there is a market at the Stationsstraat.
Wijck was also known by a brewery, where they produced the so-called Wieckse Witte (closed down in 2003). Its one of my favourite beers, though I red in a report 'sweetish, with an unpleasant chewing-gum flavour'. Just try it youself..
Looking East from the central and very historic St. Sevaas bridge you can see the beautiful view of "Wijk" and St. Maartin's church and the former Ridder Brewery. The brewery is now closed and is, in fact, partly a private home!
The Jeker area is named after the little river Jeker that streams here. It is located on the north side of the city walls. Over the river you can see this little nice House, with beautiful facades on both (!!) sides.
The jekerkwartier is the most pictoresque erea of the town. It contains many beautifull old buildings, like old Watermills, convents, small townsquairs and small medieval bridges over te river Jeker. You must take your time to stroll through the small streets and taste the atmosphere. There are many sights to visit in this part of the old town. F.e. the old watermill "Bischopsmolen" (Stenenbrug 1), the towngate called Poort Waarachtig, the convent of the Faliezusters.
The stokstraat nowadays is some of the most expensive shoppingstreets in Holland. This neighboorhood used to be a red light district in the old days (some ages ago) ! Now you find little shops, boutiques and liitle café's in this erea. It contains many old buildings and when you pass through the little alleys that are between the houses, you find yourself suddenly in pictoresc little courtyards, surrounded by the green of the trees. In the Stokstraat you can also find the "smalles" pub of the Netherlands: de Mondriaan. A café that has a surface of only a few square meters. Finaly, in this street you will find the statue of "The mestreechter Geis" very important for the Maastricht people, for it symbolizes the spirit of Maastricht.
The Sint Martinushofje, a garden surrounded by 18 th century houses, was build to accommodate the towns poor elderly women, who couldn’t support themselves. The Martinushofje is situated in the Grote looijersstraat, a street that has many big imposing houses, that – in those days - belonged to the wealthy owners of the towns tan-yard. That’s why the street is called looijersstaat (tanner street). When you enter the gate of the Martinushofje, you can see a stone tablet at the top of it, depicting St. Martinus, who - as you may know- shared his coat with a begger. This act of charity symbolizes the charity received by the poor elderly women. The text underneath the picture says “MartInI pUra LiberalItate ConDItUR,” which means something like “fouded by the generous Martinus.” The capital letters together form the year 1715, the year in which these small houses were build
In the days of the Roman Empire the eastern part of Maastricht was called “Vicus”(suburb) and indeed, it was the Maastricht suburbian erea. The name Wyck comes from Vicus. In this part of the city you can find the Ridder brewery, that is open to public (guided tour) and is famous for its Wyckse Witte, a tasty beer that is very popular in the Netherlands, and even outside the country. The quarter has some interesting spots, f.e the Hoogbrugstraat. This is one of the eldest streets in town; and has on both sides of the street some 17 th. Century houses, build in a typical local style, called “Maaslandse Renaissance” style. A style that can be characterized by span-roofs, broad facades, big carriage-entrances, windows framed by big stones that come from Namur (Belgium). At the riverbank you find the so called Waterpoortje, a 13 th century gate, that is part of the mediavel townwall. In Wyck you find a lot of small, typical shops, that are situated in the Rechtsstraat. In spring they celebrate the Wycker Bronk. Originally a religious festival, nowadays you find in several parts of the quarter live-music and people dancing on streets.
Purchase the brochure/map at the Visitor Center. The tour begins and ends at the Visitor Center and they recommend you allow 1 1/2 hours to complete the tour. However, I chose to walk slowly and savor different sections on different days. My favorite parts of the walk were the Onze Lieve Vrouwewal, the Helpoort, and the streets of Lang Grachtje, Hilariusstraat, and Grote Looiersstraat. I encourage you to explore all of the streets near the Natural History Museum, the Jan Van Eyck Academy, and the University. Don't be afraid to stray off the tour if you find a street that intrigues you. I discovered that the city was big enough that I could explore a different neighborhood every day I was there (4 days), but small enough that I never got lost.
Maastricht really suited my personal style of tourism. The city centre is compact and eminently walkable (although the cobblestones can be a bit hard on the feet) . The various streets and districts are diverse with all sorts of interesting individual features.
To my mind if you walk about with a guidebook then all you'll see are the things in the guidebook but if you wander with an open mind and open eyes then you'll notice so much more. OK you might not know anything about what you've come across at the time but take a pic or two and then you can do your own research at a later date.
The statue here is "Pieke oet de Stokstraot" on the Stokstraat by Nicolas Van Ronk Stien. "Pieke" is a Romany character from a book by Ber Hollewijn and fictionally lived on Stokstraat at the time that the area was one of the city's slums. He's captured here in bronze with his dog "Maoke" selling cigarettes (probably contraband) to passersby and is a typical example of the many idiosyncratic little features that the town has to offer.
I'm not sure how this translates but I think it's something like "Big Bridge Street" which perhaps during the 18th century it was. The Hoogbrugstraat is now a quiet little side street on the eastern side of the river, just down from the railway station, with a row of quirky individual shops.
If you look above the doorways you'll notice that most have the original motifs which served as their addresses at the time they were built.
Maastricht's University is the Netherlands second youngest having formally been awarded its charter in 1976. The University was originally intended to be built as a medical school in a purpose designed modern campus.
However the expected shortage of medical professionals had been avoided by the existing schools taking on more students but the Limburg and city authorities continued to go ahead with plans to have a university sited here. The first faculty, that of medicine, began teaching in 1974 despite the University not being recognised as such. Its charter was officially granted in January 1976 since when it has expanded considerably and now hosts six faculties offering courses, at all levels including PhD, in Arts and Sciences, Business, Law, Humanities, Medicine and Psychology.
What's particularly interesting is that many of the new faculties are housed in historically important buildings which had at the time fallen into disuse and disprepair. Thus the University has contributed hugely to the urban regeneration of what was a decaying city following the collapse of its industrial base.
Whilst the historic centre makes fascinating wandering it's also worth taking in the more modern developments too as these have played their role in the emergence of the city. You don't have to wander far - a few minutes walk down the east bank of the river from the St Servatius Bridge takes you past the remains of the Medieval river fortifications and gateways and then past the modern apartment blocks, offices and the back of the city's main museum and art gallery, the Bonnefantenmuseum, all of which are along the pleasant riverside walk.
If you continue under the John F Kennedy Bridge you'll find the memorial to the US 30th Infantry Division who liberated the city from the Germans in 1944. The memorial was dedicated on Sept 14th 1994 to comemorate the 50th anniversary of the event.
This is another statue that piqued my interest as I was wandering along Grote Looiersstraat, where the Natural History Museum is located. At the time I had no idea who it was but have since found that it's a guy called Fons Olterdissen.
Olterdissen was a turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th) arts teacher who lived most of his life here in Maastricht. He was influencial is promoting writing in the local dialect and was a co-founder of the social and cultural association “Maastricht Vooruit” (Maastricht Ahead).
Amongst his writings he authored several comic operas and the final song of his “Trijn de Begijn” has become Maastricht’s official anthem.
The sculpture here is a 1961 work by Willem Hofhuizen and depicts Fons addressing the sculptor's children.
Whilst Maastricht's most obvious waterway is its river it does have a network of canals and other waterways around and under the city. Some of these would have been used for transportation, others as drainage and flood control and there are also several watermills whose uses included the grinding of flour and as the power source for textile manufacture.
Walking along the streets of Maastrciht is a wonderful experience. Stokstratkwartier is nice neighbourhood in the heart of the old town. Here you can see some fantastic examples of private buildings built in the 17th and 18th century. All the houses have got an high roof to have great attics whether to store the provisions and the commodities during the orders.