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Visiting the 13th century former City Gate, Maastricht, The Netherlands: a remnant of a Medieval wall

Updated on March 9, 2016
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
The Helpoort in Maastricht
The Helpoort in Maastricht | Source
Map location of Maastricht, The Netherlands
Map location of Maastricht, The Netherlands | Source

For your visit, this item may be of interest

From defensive warfare to wedding charm

In the Middle Ages, Maastricht, in Limburg province (1), The Netherlands, was a walled city, and the imposing City Gate has survived. Known in Dutch as the Helpoort, the Gate is imposing and monumental in appearance. Such structures can give the North American visitor a sense of the urgency of military defences for the European city dweller in Medieval times.

Dating from 1229, it is the oldest, existing city gate in The Netherlands. (However, during several centuries of the Gate's existence, the original, defensive purpose of the structure was already largely redundant.)

Adjacent to the Helpoort is the Jeker Tower, named for a local river, a change in the course of which also altered the focus of defensive fortifications.

In the of the 19th century, the Gate was being used as a private residence (which must have felt rather grand for the fortunate dwellers — except that we must take care not to project 21st century perceptions onto 19th century minds).

Later, the Gate was used as an artist's workshop.

Following a programme of refurbishment, the CIty Gate today is used as a museum about the history of the City of Maastricht, an ideal rôle, since it forms a living reminder of nearly 800 years of fortified history. At the museum, which exists at different floor levels, a video presentation is sometime available.

Now, in place of Medieval defensive associations, for photographers the Gate forms a popular backdrop to many a bridal silhouette.

The structure is located at St. Bernardusstraat 1, in Maastricht, not far from the bridge known as the 'Hoge Brug', over the Maas River.

I recall visiting this striking structure when it was festooned with flags for a local, religious festival (although I was not sure whether the religious festival was supposed to be enhancing the Gate, or vice-versa; from the perspective of many local people, mine was not to reason why).

Note

(1) Bear in mind that, somewhat confusingly, Limburg is also the name of a Belgian province, located to the west of the Dutch province of that name.

Also worth seeing

In Maastricht itself, visitor attractions include; two churches. the Sint-Janskerk and the Sint-Servaas Basilica, built next to one another; the fort of Sint-Pieter.

Eijsden (distance: 12 kilometres) has a striking, moated castle, located close to the Belgian border.

...

How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services from Amsterdam to Maastricht. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, this item may be of interest

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