Thursday, October 11, 2007

Coordinates: 50°51′N, 5°41′E
Maastricht (Dutch (pronunciation (help·info)), Limburgish and city dialect: Mestreech) is a municipality, and capital of the province of Limburg. The city is situated on both sides of the Meuse river (Maas in Dutch) in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands between Belgium and Germany. The place-name is derived from its Latin name Trajectum Ad Mosam or Mosae Trajectum (Mosa-crossing), referring to the bridge built by the Romans during the reign of Augustus Caesar.
For years, the city has been arguing with Nijmegen as to which of them is the oldest city in the Netherlands. Nijmegen was the first city with Roman city rights in what is now the Netherlands. Maastricht was the first with Medieval city rights, a system which evolved to the current system and, thanks to the Romans, the first settlement with city allure. However, Maastricht was without a doubt the first settlement in the Netherlands. Roman sources mention a Celtic settlement (probably inhabited by the Eburones) at the location they used for the bridge. Other sources mention a Celtic settlement at a river crossing near where Wyck is now located.

Maastricht developed in the Middle Ages into a city of dual authority, with both the Prince-Bishopric of Liège and the Duchy of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. It received city rights in 1204. The role of the Dukes was occupied by the Dutch States General from 1632 onwards when the city was taken from the Spanish by Frederik Hendrik. This duality remained in force until the conquest and annexation of the city by the French in 1794.

Middle Ages
Seven skeletons uncovered in a front garden in Maastricht in May 2004 may be the remains of musketeers who died during a fierce 17th century battle between French attackers and Dutch defenders.
The famous Siege of Maastricht occurred here during the month of June, 1673, because battle supply lines were being threatened. During this siege, one of history's most famous military engineers, Vauban, synthesized the methods of attacking strong places, in order to break down the fortifications surrounding Maastricht. His introduction of a systematic approach by parallels resulted in a rapid breaching of the city's fortifications. (This technique, in principle, has remained until the 20th century the standard method of attacking a fortress.)
After the breaching of the fortifications occurred, Louis XIV's troops started to surround the city of Maastricht. Under the leadership of Captain-Lieutenant Charles de Batz de Castelmore, also known as Comte d'Artagnan, the First Company of "Mousquetaires du Roi" prepared to storm a rampart located in front of one of the city's gates. The assault on the bulwark took place not far from where the seven skeletons were found. D'Artagnan was killed by a musket shot on 25 June 1673 during a night attack on the Tongerse Gate (this event was portrayed by Alexandre Dumas in his novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne).
Maastricht surrendered to French troops on 30 June. The French troops occupied the Dutch city from 1673 to 1679. It was subsequently restored to Dutch rule.

French & Napoleonic times
After the Napoleonic era, Maastricht became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. When the southern provinces sought independence from the North to form Belgium in 1830, the garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king and occupied the city despite anti-Dutch feelings amongst the population. Maastricht was neither Dutch nor Belgian between 1830 and 1839. In 1839 the Treaty of London was imposed on the Belgians and the city and the eastern part of Limburg, despite being geographically and culturally closer to Belgium, were permanently added to the Netherlands. Because of the resulting eccentric location Maastricht was often more focused on Belgium and Germany than on the rest of the Netherlands, adding to the distinct non-Dutch character of the city. Even now, the people of Maastricht (and the rest of Limburg) hold on to their language and culture, and some even hope to be re-united with Limburgian areas in Germany and Belgium.

Part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
On September 14, 1944, Maastricht was the first Dutch city to be liberated by allied forces during World War II. In 1976, Maastricht became part of the Euregio Maas-Rhine. In 1992, the Maastricht treaty was signed here, leading to the creation of the European Union.

20th century
Especially under current mayor Gerd Leers, Maastricht attracted many summits, like the OCSE-summit in 2003, and several gatherings during the Dutch EU-chairmanship in the second half of 2004.

21st century

Administration of the Dutch province of Limburg.
Maastricht School of Management
Universiteit Maastricht (Maastricht University) Institutions and education
The following private companies are settled, or have sections in Maastricht:

ENCI (First Dutch Cement Industry)
Hewlett-Packard (previously Indigo)
Pie Medical
EDS Neighborhoods
The mayor of Maastricht is the Christian Democrat Gerd Leers. His party, the CDA, became the largest party in the city council after the 2002 municipal elections, when they made up the coalition together with PvdA, VVD and GroenLinks.
The 2006 municipal elections saw a political landslide from right to left all over the Netherlands, and Maastricht was no exception. The present coalition still kept its majority, but the shift to the left made Maastricht one of the 39 Dutch municipalities in which an all-left-wing coalition of PvdA, GroenLinks and SP has become possible. Another factor that contributed to this situation in Maastricht, was the 2005 enduring disagreement within the VVD between the traditional and progressive members. September 2006, this lead to the establishement of the Liberalen Maastricht. Previously the VVD forced one of its members to leave the party, just a month after the 2006 municipal elections.
One issue that brought Maastricht in the news in 2005 and 2006 was the cannabis supply of coffeeshops. Under the gedoogbeleid the sale of cannabis is allowed under certain conditions, but the supply is not, resulting in an impossible situation. The police keep on tracking down plantations, but that just results in more and more plantations being set up, including many in attics of houses in 'ordinary streets', thus bringing small children in contact with illegal activities. Mayor Leers therefore proposed to let the government take over the growing, striking, in his opinion, a blow to the criminal scene. But the Netherlands are bound by international laws and a complication for Maastricht is its proximity to neighbouring countries, making it a major destination for drug tourism.


In football, Maastricht is represented by MVV (Maastrichtse Voetbal Vereniging), currently playing in the Dutch first division. Maastricht Sports

By car; Maastricht is served by the A2 and the A79 highways. The city can be reached from Brussels and Cologne (Köln) within 1½ hours and from Amsterdam within 2½ hours. The A2 highway that runs through Maastricht is heavily congested and increasingly causes air pollution in the urban area. Construction plans for building a tunnel in order to improve traffic flow are currently being developed.
By train; the Dutch Railways serves both the main station of Maastricht and the station located near the business and university district (Maastricht Randwyck). A railway branch passes through Maastricht that runs south to Liège, Belgium and north into the rest of The Netherlands, where it has a branch to Heerlen. Intercity trains to the northern city of Alkmaar connect Maastricht with Eindhoven, Utrecht and Amsterdam, amongst others. Express and commuter trains cover the regional area and an international intercity train connects the city to Liège and Brussels in Belgium. Another railway line to Hasselt, Belgium is no longer in use, although plans exist to restore it.
By airplane; Maastricht is served by Maastricht Aachen Airport with scheduled flights to Alicante [as of November 14, 2007], Amsterdam, Girona, Valencia [as of October 31, 2007] and popular holiday destinations (e.g. Turkey) during the Summer season.
By boat; Maastricht has a river port on the Meuse, and is connected with the rest of the Netherlands through the Juliana Canal and the Zuid-Willemsvaart.
By bus; In Maastricht various buslines serve the majority of the city and suburbs. The regional bus network stretches to most of parts of Southern-Limburg as well as to Belgium (Hasselt, Tongeren and Liège) and Germany (Aachen) Transportation

Visiting Maastricht

Carnival (Dutch: Carnaval, Limburgish: Vastelaovend) & November 11 (start Carnival-season)
Preuvenemint, culinary event in late August.
The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF)
Winterland Events & Festivals

Bonnefanten Museum of art.
Natuurhistorisch Museum which exhibits collections relating to geology, paleontology and the flora and fauna of Limburg. Museums

Bassin, an inner harbour with various restaurants.
The Helpoort and the city wall.
The Hoge Fronten (also Linie van du Moulin), 17th/18th century bastion.
The Kazematten, the tunnels beneath the Hoge Fronten.
The Markt (Marketsquare) with the city hall.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe square with the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw basilica.
To the south of the city is the hill of St. Pietersberg which has an old fort and a network of caves within. The caves maintain a constant temperature of 10°C and are a hibernation place for bats. The caves were formed by digging out the Marl that was used to build houses. This led to a very extensive network of caves that were used as hiding places during World War II. Later, the marl was used by ENCI to make cement. In the process a large chunk was removed from one side of the hill. The unused material was used to make a new hill, d'n Observant. In the process of carving out the marl, fossils were found, most notably one of a mosasaur in 1780 (which, contrary to popular belief, was not a dinosaur). The find was so famous it led to naming a 6-million-year epoch after the city: the Maastrichtian.
The statue of d'Artagnan in the Aldenhofpark.
Various shopping streets e.g. the Stokstraatkwartier, the Grote Staat & Kleine Staat and the recently restored mall Entre Deux.
Vrijthof square, with the Vrijthoftheatre (Theater aan het Vrijthof), the Saint Servatius basilica (Sint-Servaasbasiliek) and the Saint Johns church (Sint-Janskerk). Sights

MosaeGusto!, a 3.500 m² fine food market located within the Mosae Forum shopping centre opening in September 2007. Other
See also People from Maastricht

Gerard Bergholtz (1939); former soccerplayer; 9 time international.
Peter Debye (1884-1966), Nobel prize winning chemist
André Rieu (1949), musician
Fred Rompelberg (1945); cyclist; current holder of the Absolute Speed World Record Cycling with 268,831 km/h
Maxime Verhagen (1956), politician
Ad Wijnands (1959); former cyclist; two time stage winner in Tour de France
Boudewijn Zenden (1976), football (soccer) player Sister Cities

Jewish Maastricht

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