The Limburg province is rich in natural resources. Since prehistoric times people mined the hills for flint. Next came marlstone, gravel, sand, and coal. Since the discovery of natural gas in the north of our country the coal was less interesting and coalmines eventally closed,. Today you can take a tour in an old coalmine in Valkenburg.
Other mines are just there to be discovered. A prehistoric flintquarry with explanation can be seen for free in Valkenburg (Plenkertstraat). In the woods near Gronsveld you can stumble upon a gravelquarry. This one is located in the Savelbos. Until 1950 sand and gravel were taken from here to make roads. The sand and gravel were brought here from the mountains south by the river Maas.
In Kerkrade there is a zoo completely develloped in the 21th century. It opened to the public in april 2005.
The name Gaia, taken from the Greek goddess of the earth, is a symbol for the past. But Gaia also stands for a new earth a living planet.
The park works themes like the icetime, the dino-age, africa and more.
Altough it was rainy and cold when we visited it was a great experience.
In our flat country we call every elevation a mountain. In Limburg they have the highest mountains of our country. In Vaals is the Vaalserberg with 322 meter the absolute recordbreaker.
In the picture the St Pietersberg near Maastricht (170m)
About 800 000 years ago the river Maas streamed through the Limburg landscape over the Örenberg. The water brought 8 meters of gravel, sand and clay at this point. The water was also very rich in calcium. The calcium dripped into the layer of gravel and sand. Eventualy turning into limestone, and with the gravel and sand in it it looks like natural concrete. (Stumbling upon this place during a walk, i actually thought it were concrete remains of a wall or something) The rare sediment is called Örenberg conglomerate after the place it was found. They mined the area and the mine collapsed. The piece you find here are put here as a geological monument.
A church, a few old farmhouses, that's about it as far as the sights of this village are concerned. I like it, but you might not think this is very interesting. However, a look at the watertower is something I'd recommend if you're near. It's an absolute beauty in Expressionistic (Amsterdam School) style.
This village east of Maastricht has little to offer to the average tourist. I happen to find the church very interesting, but I'm probably one of the few. If you're near you could take a look at it and see what I find so interesting about it. In short; the combination of parts from very different periods.
A little outside the village is the site that Margraten is best known for, the American War Cemetary. After World War Two a piece of land was given to the USA (that's right, this is American soil now) for use as a war cemetery. American soldiers who had been killed during fights in The Netherlands and Germany were buried here. Some 17000 in total, of which now about 8000 graves are left, while ca. 1700 names of missing soldiers are commemorated on white marble walls which are part of a memorial of a truly American scale. I first saw it when I was a child and it made a huge impression on me.
This is perhaps not really a must-see. At first look it is, but there are reasons why it isn't as great as it looks. See, it does have a church. On a hill. Near a river. Very picturesque. Only, the church was damaged and rebuilt so many times that it can't be considered really old. What you see now is mostly post-WW2. That doesn't worry the church architecture-historian in me, it's still a very interesting example of a church in Romanesque style, but its young age might damage its touristic appeal. Still, there must be a few parts that have been there for about a 1000 years though. Yes, this is a historical place. For a while the bishops of Utrecht resided here, but that's a long story. Oh what am I even talking about, do pay a visit when you're near Roermond. And stop near the bridge to admire the view.
OK, Rolduc is not a place itself. Actually it is part of the city of Kerkrade, but as it is located a bit remotely, and it's the only part of Kerkrade that I've been to I mention it seperately. You can find Rolduc at the edge of Kerkrade, almost at the border with Germany. This big complex is a mixture of a castle and a monastery and celebrated its 900th birthday in 2004. Today the complex is divided in two parts, one being a catholic part including a major seminary, the other a commercial congress centre. The church dates from the 12th century and is in Romanesque style. Unfortunately you can only see the front.
Yes, the name of this village does look French, doesn't it? Only it isn't pronounced in the French way, and it probably comes from "limus", the Latin word for mud. This village thus was named after mud. Apart from mud, in this village you should try to find this chapel, which is near a castle, which itself is private property and cannot be visited. Just a few meters to the east and you're in Germany. This chapel originally was a church and is the best preserved example of the oldest surviving type of church in The Netherlands (how's that for a sentence eh?), a small one-aisled building with a rectangular choir and no tower. There must have been dozens of such churches in this area alone. Inside are some controversial 20th-century wall-paintings that you can 'admire' should you be able to get in. I didn't bother to get the key, but do regret my lazyness.
(A seperate page about this place is under construction)
What was once a convent for noble women, a stift or minster, is now an expensive hotel. How expensive? Well, taking along a small pet will already cost you 30 euros a day. It's with tricks like that that a hotel can stay exclusive. Of course it won't cost you anything if you just admire the buildings from outside.
But the church is still a church, although a parish church now. And a magnificent church it is too! It was built in honour of St. Gerlachus who is also buried here. It has probably the most impressive Baroque interior of The Netherlands, with just about every inch of the walls and ceiling painted. There's also a small museum about the saint and the convent. Nice place for a short stop. Houthem has a station so you can come by train, but I walked from Valkenburg myself, as that seemed quicker than waiting for the next train. And it was. Quite a pleasant walk too. After that I still had enough energy left to walk to Meerssen.
At the Markt in Meerssen you find a large basilica. The basilica in its current form dates back to the 13th century, but there was a chapel here much longer. It is said there were two miracles in this basilica, one the wonder of the blood, and the second was the wonder of the fire.
The Basiliek van het Heilig Sacrament was made a basilica by the pope in 1938, because the church was a very important pilgrimage site. Pilgrims came to the place of the Holy Sacrament.
More about the basilica and the two wonders in the travelogue.
See the basilica of Meerssen, one of the most impressive Gothic churches of The Netherlands! This church once belonged to a small but important monastery but has been used as a parish church for a long time now. It makes a very balanced impression, but that is largely due to three traves added to the west in the 1930's. Once the church had a tower, but that seems hard to imagine today. The church is simply so perfect that it doesn't need a tower! The honorary title of Basilica Minor was granted by Pope Pius XI in 1938.
The rest of the town is quite nice too, with several more interesting buildings, including a small protestant church, a gift from the Belgian government in the 1830's, when Limburg was part of Belgium. Nice place to spend a couple of hours.
The town of Thorn is quite a tourist attraction, with many old buildings, most of which are painted white (for touristic reasons, not historic ones!). The church however is the most important sight of all.
Built as the church of a powerful convent that became the centre of a small sovereign state, this church has been changed from a Romanesque church to an almost completely Gothic church, and became a simple parish church after the state was disbanded by the French. It is the only surviving building of the abbey's complex.
Both outside and inside the building gives an indication of the former wealth of Thorn. Of the original Romanesque church, built in the second half of the 12th century, only the lower side of the tower and the crypt remain. The rest of the church was rebuilt in Gothic style in several stages, from the 13th until the 16th century. Despite this long period, the church is remarkably consistent in style and is a highlight of the regional Maasland Gothic style (see Gothicism). The interior however is mostly Baroque. A restoration by P.J.H. Cuypers (I mention his name a lot, I know. I can't help it, he's just so important!) from 1860 until 1880 among others resulted in the completion of the original Romanesque tower with a new, neo-Gothic upper part made of brick and marl.
I'm not a poet but sometimes I wish I was. Seeing this church standing on top of a hill near Vaals sure brought me in a poetic mood. Don't laugh! The simple beauty of this small church really moves me. It's so simple, and yet so perfect. Somebody should really write a poem about that short tower with the tall elegant spire. Perhaps I should learn how to paint. From the picture you can tell that the church was extended several times. That's part of its charm. The door was open, which is always nice, but there wasn't much to see. Inside is even smaller than you'd expect seeing the church from the outside.
It took a bit of a climb to get here but I'm glad I did.
The church is open daily and attracts pilgrims from just about everywhere, but mostly Germany, who hope to find healing for diseases on the eyes or the skin by drinking the water from the well at the foot of the hill. The church is also a very popular place for weddings. Interested? It'll cost you 325 euros.
The rest of this small village hasn't got a lot to offer, a hostel, a bar, a few half-timber houses, but it has a nice atmosphere.
Wittem is very small. A castle, a big monastery, a few houses and that's about it. The castle was there first, and it was one of the owners that founded the monastery. It was a Baroque complex then, but the acquisition of parts of the remains of St. Gerardus Majella, a very popular saint, turned the place into a place of pilgrimage. (That's the bad thing about being a saint I guess, everybody wants a piece of you.) The church was rebuilt several times and from the outside is only partly visible in its original state. Oh, and the rest of the village? A shop selling religious stuff and a bar/restaurant serving St. Gerardus beer, that's about it. The beer's OK actually, and you can buy it in shops and supermarkets in the area too.
It's great to see and witness that the hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool, which you can use...more
We stayed here for a long weekend (thursday to sunday). We got a room overlooking the trainstation,...more
Broekstraat 35, Roermond, 6049 CJ, nl
Good for: Couples