15 March 2015
Maastricht is a town that shares with Nijmegen as the oldest city in Netherlands with respect to Human settlement. It is the birthplace of European Union thanks to Maastricht treaty signed in 1992. It has huge number of National Heritage sites (> 1600) second only to Amsterdam. The University in Maastricht makes it more thriving town than other similar places in Netherlands.
|Maas river at Maastricht|
When I got down from railway station, I just followed the crowd to St. Servaasbrug, a stone bridge constructed across Maas River.
At information center, a lady at the counter happily explained the places I can visit in the town. That was very helpful. And then I headed to Vrijthof square. A nice place to rest and relax, it was surrounded by restaurants and bars. All of them were full!! A nice weather and Saturday ensured that people were on the streets!
|Church at Vrijthof|
What attracted me were the trees at Vrijthof. They looked different.
At Vrijthof was Sint-Janskerk, a gothic church.
I went into the Basilica and spent some time enjoying the interiors.
The main intension of my visit to Maastricht was to visit caves. I walked a long way to Fort St. Pieter where the caves were located.
|A street in Maastricht|
It is hard to see hills in Netherlands!! Maastricht is an exception and Fort St. Pieter on top of a hill provides nice views.
|View from the fort|
|Fort St. Pieter|
These are manmade tunnels of limestone quarries. The labyrinth of tunnels covers a length of about 200km!! It also connects to neighboring Belgium. But today about 80km of the tunnel remains due to the collapse and open pit mining.
The caves are very dark and it is very easy to get lost. Only guided tours are available which lasts for an hour.
|Map of the pathways in the cave|
Lot of paintings is seen in the caves which are made by charcoal. These were drawn not by the quarry workers but the visitors in olden times.
The tunnels also were used as hiding place during wars. The reminiscent of those days can be seen in the form of kitchen.
Surprisingly Maastricht is less visited by International tourists. Most visitors are from neighboring countries.