Maastricht may not be a canal city, but its history and identity has always been wrapped around the Meuse river that flow through middle the city and its tributaries. Centuries ago when Maastricht was founded there was only one way to get across the Meuse. Today there are 5 major bridges in Maastricht itself: three you’ll use as a pedestrian and two for vehicles only.
St. Servatiusburg (St. Servaasburg) is the oldest bridge in the Netherlands and a beautiful, understated structure in the center of Maastricht. Built in the 13th century, St. Servatius bridge was repair and updated several times over its history. Today only a single arch remains from the original structure; the rest of the bridge is reinforced concrete faced with stone except for the metal drawbridge added to accommodate water-traffic. Only pedestrians and bicycles are allowed on St. Servatius bridge, but it sees daily traffic due to its central location.
Just downstream on the western bank of the river you can see a metal post topped with a lion statue. This monument marks the location of the original 50 BC Roman bridge.
Wilhelminaburg was built in 1932 to accommodate increasing traffic in Maastricht which was threatening to damage the historical St. Servatius Bridge. Accessible by both foot and auto traffic, Wilhelminaburg crosses the Meuse right in front of the Gemeente and makes for excellent access to Markt square on one side and the Minerva Cinema on the other.
De Hoge Footbridge, built in 2003, is the newest bridge spanning the Meuse between the edge of the stadpark and the Centre Ceramique. The suspension bridge design was selected to prevent any new piles from being sunk into the river. Only accessible to pedestrians and cyclers (with steps and elevators at either end), the view from this bridge is wonderful.
JFK Bridge & Noorderburg flank the Maastricht city center on either side and splits the N2 highway coming from Belgium into the N590 and N278 for East/West traffic. For bikers, they also provide a less cobblestone-bumpy ride around the edges of the city.
This article was written for Maastrichtregion.com and can be read in the “To Live” section.