It would be hard NOT to fall in love with Maastricht, a town in Holland known for its markets, open plazas, and rich history. And so, we, too, fell in line with others who agree that this is a free-spirited place for shopping, touring, and relaxing.
Known for its open-air markets selling everything from clothing to beans, Maastricht identified itself to those of us on Viking’s Holland & Belgium cruise as the place for strolling and taking in all the sights and sounds. With numerous places to sit and sip a coffee or dine on pastries, we found ourselves looking at historical sights but also just enjoying the carefree atmosphere in the plazas and on the streets.
We reveled in more of the architecture of The Netherlands — ornate rooflines, stone construction, and markings that indicate care in construction not seen much today.
The Basilica of Our Lady
We dipped out of the mayhem of markets for a brief but meaningful tour of the Basilica of Our Lady located in the plaza known as Onze Lieve Vrouweplein 7.
The spot where the Basilica of Our Lady now stands was the site of a small church as early as the fifth century AD. This was probably the oldest Christian church in the Netherlands and may have been built on top of the remains of a Roman temple.Visit Maastricht
We were enthralled to see the lovely blue dome, artifacts still remaining intact, burial records of those interred in the flooring as well as vaulted ceilings and stonework that indicate this is one of the prettiest churches in the country.
But not all churches are so lucky as to remain viable places of worship. Some have been converted, our guide told us, to bookstores or condominiums or other such purposes since fewer and fewer residents are attending church as we know it.
We loved our walk through neighboring small streets as we glimpsed doors embraced by arching florals and alleys where ever-present bicycles call home.
We even took a second and third glance at some decorated cookies in a pastry shop window where the owner motioned for us to come in and enjoy a free sample or a waffle or both! (Lucky us.)
But most of all, what you need to know about Maastricht is not just that it contains 1,677 National Heritage Buildings or that The Maastricht Treaty was signed here or that the euro was created here. You just need to know that it’s what the Viking Daily called it: “irreverent, independent and fun loving — one of the most popular cities for Dutch and international travelers.”
We’re just glad we were among them!
Rusha & Bert