"The Netherlands’ Deep South" Maastricht by Nemorino
Maastricht Travel Guide: 1,286 reviews and 3,325 photos
If you look at a map of the Netherlands, you will see that the country is shaped roughly (very roughly) like a parallelogram.
But if you look at the lower right hand corner of this parallelogram you will see an oddly-shaped appendage dangling like a swollen tail down into a bit of left-over landscape between Belgium and Germany.
This appendage is the landstreek of South Limburg. It is connected to the rest of the Netherlands by a narrow strip of land which at its narrowest point is less than five kilometers wide, just enough space for a river, a harbor (Holtum-Noord), a town, a motorway, a double-track railway, some fields and a patch of woods.
Down towards the bottom, the appendage widens out a bit so there is room for some hills (more hills than in all the rest of the Netherlands put together, in fact) and for the city of Maastricht. This is a pleasant old city of 120,000 people on the banks of the Maas River, better known in French and English as the Meuse.
Maastricht is a lively university city with a high percentage of foreign students. Because of its location It is predestined to be a very international place, since it is only 26 km from the Belgian city of Liège and 30 km from the German city of Aachen, but over 70 km from Venlo, the closest city in the Netherlands with over 100,000 inhabitants.
Indeed Maastricht is best known today as the place where the Treaty of Maastricht was signed by representatives of twelve European countries in 1992, setting the ground rules for the creation of the European Union and the Euro as the common European currency.
People in Maastricht seem to be quite proud of this (even when the Euro is in the throes of some sort of crisis, which it usually is) and there is even a big new square in Maastricht called “Plein 1992” in honor of the Treaty and the Euro.
I first visited Maastricht in August 2012 (during a heat wave) and returned briefly with a group of VirtualTourist members in May 2015 to go on a self-guided walking tour starting at the city tourist office in the Thing House.
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