Maastricht, Netherlands: The Green, Magical Dutch Town
You'll Wish You Could Live Here
The town of Maastricht is the southernmost major city of the Netherlands and one of the best launching grounds for travel to Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. However, the city itself should be given at least 3 days of your attention, as there is no town in the world quite like it.
Like so many places in the Netherlands, Maastricht is not unlike a vast park merely cleft by roads and a large river. Everywhere one goes there is greenery: trees, grass, and parks themselves, which the Dutch love. Further, as is also true of other places in Holland, Maastricht is much like a living museum as there is a vast smattering of statuary seemingly everywhere the eye looks. Walking down a narrow path in an out-of-the-way path one might, for instance, happen upon a small bronze deer, or a small man with fishing pole who is contorting in an odd, curious fashion.
Walking or otherwise getting around the town is simple as there are bike and pedestrian paths throughout the town. These will take you places such as the old castle walls, which hosts the inner part of the city. Here is found the town square, surrounded by the town hall, an old Catholic Cathedral that is guarded by the statue of a saint, numerous shops selling everything from cheese and wine to online cyber time. The crown attraction of the square is a statue of the patron of the town, a scientist holding a rod from whence blooms an eternal flame. Another statue that excites visitors is that of d’Artagnan, of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Muskateers’ fame.
For a more natural setting, the many parks are a wonderful repast from the real world. Very popular with the locals is the petting zoo, which contains numerous pygmy deer and goats, along with ornate chickens and ducks. For the truly surreal, not far from the miniature zoo is a park where one will encounter a circular cage that once housed live bears. Today this cage forms part of an art exhibit meant to raise awareness of endangered species, for within the pit of the cage are statues of species of animals nearing extinction and looking up with pleading eyes. Topping the entire effect, and the first scene to capture the eyes is the lifelike statue of a naked woman kneeling and supporting a dying giraffe as she gently pets the creature. From time to time the statue of the woman is more modest, being dressed in clothing provided by the artist.
Historically Maastricht is a great winner as this is one of the two oldest cities in the Netherlands. It was also the first Dutch city freed by the Allies in World War II, and is the place where the Maastricht Treaty was signed, ultimately bringing about the European Union and linking its past importance with modern greatness.
Like most places in this part of the world, the people of Maastricht are incredibly kind and friendly, willing to lend a hand or a bit of information upon the asking. If you are ever given the opportunity, visit Maastricht, for its magic will stay with you all of your days.