We initially decided to stop off at Maastricht because it was on the train-line from Luxembourg to Amsterdam, but we weren’t sure what to see there. Despite that, we had a wonderful couple of days full of surprises.
We started the day with a nice cup of coffee in an old church. The surroundings were lofty and striking and the coffee was great.
From there we walked to the central square, with its impressive red bell tower of the Church of St John’s and next to the large Basilica of St Servatius. Built in the 14th century, this 70m tower is painted red as it always has been. Stories say that it used to be painted with bull’s blood.
From there we wandered through the town to the old city walls and gate. These were constructed from the 16th to the 19th century.
With rumbling stomachs, we decided to go to a bakery that still uses a water wheel to mill its own grain!
The bread wasn’t too shabby either.
We booked a tour of a massive sandstone mine that was started by the Romans and is still mined today.
There was a dozen of us on the tour, and the guide had 2 lanterns – one for the front and one at the back of the group. There are no other lights inside and its all eerily dark.
This tunnel system in the mine used to stretch 200km, however only 8km are still open to the public. This is a map of the old tunnel system.
The sandstone was mined in great blocks. Below you can see the square cuts on the sides where blocks were removed.
Here you can see the grooves in the wall where the cart wheels would drag against the mine walls while removing the blocks of sandstone.
The tunnels were shut off to the public in the 90s, however before that people would create artwork on the walls.
During the Spanish Inquisition was people would hide in the tunnel system for days and weeks. You can still see an oven down here that they used for cooking.
Maastrict is just a beautiful city to wander. Like many older cities, it has beautiful rows of houses, like these below. In some of the older streets, the houses also have stone plaques on the buildings identifying them.
Maastricht, with its lovely streets and great history ended up being a great stopover.
Now onto Amsterdam!