Maastricht – Burgundy in the Netherlands

Foreign, International, a bit French…these are words which Maastricht’s guests often use to describe the city’s characteristic atmosphere. Centuries of influence from the south and the tradition of cultural exchange in this land without borders have given Maastricht an international imprint. The old fortified town on the Meuse river is developing steadily into a city of European charm. The centre of the city of Maastricht is especially attractive, due to its wealth of historic buildings; some 1590 monuments are protected by law. Because of its heritage value, the whole of Maastricht city centre has been declared a protected area. Maastricht nowadays has 125.000 inhabitants. The city lies on the banks of the rivers Maas and Jeker, at the foot of mount St.Peter.

The history of Maastricht begins when the Romans built a settlement by the main road, near a ford in the river Meuse. The city is derived from the Latin “Mosae Trajectum”, the site where the river could be crossed. This settlement grew to become a walled Castellum, which was abandoned towards the end of the fourth century A.D.

Maastricht has had to withstand many sieges; because of the river crossing it was an important town strategically, so Dutch, Spanish and French armies laying siege to Maastricht frequently. The remains of the city walls and the underground fortifications show the story. The sense of 20 centuries of history is almost tangible in the old town with its narrow clinker paved streets and impressive facades. Evidence of the city’s prosperity over the centuries can be seen in the churches, the treasure houses and the mansions. From c. 380 to 722 A.D. Maastricht was a Bishop’s seat.

Since 1991 Maastricht has been well known throughout the world as the city whose name will always be closely linked to the unification of Europe. The half-yearly summit conference of the European Council, which was held in Maastricht on 9 and 10 December 1991.under the Chairmanship of the Netherlands, resulted in the “Treaty of Maastricht” and the EURO. This laid the foundation for the integration of Europe.

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