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A Suggestion for an Informal Symbol of Maastricht

Hopefully I’m not out of line here, but I like having a little something to point to that symbolizes a place. Sure sometimes these things turn into stereotypes, but there’s something nice about having an object or image that invokes memories or thoughts of Place. In Vermont, for example, maple syrup and fall maple leaves are important informal symbols of my home state.

Holland, naturally, has lots of these sorts of symbols: wooden clogs, windmills, cheese, tulips, etc. But here in Maastricht those things are not entirely appropriate. I don’t know if farmers use wooden shoes much anymore around here, but we don’t have many windmills and the round cheese we usually associate with Holland is from Gouda. Besides, the only tulips we have here are planted in private gardens (or on rotunde).

My suggestion: the humble cherry vlaai.

Some sample vlaai. I'd prefer the symbol to be a slice to show off the filling.


Vlaai is a Limburgish dish. It is sweet, and it is associated with relaxing in a café along the Muese river or on the Vrijthof in the company of friends. Cherry would make the vlaai red, the color of Maastricht’s official crest. There is something a bit whimsical about vlaai that makes it more approachable than Maastricht’s shield (a great symbol in its own right. I use it on this site.). It also lacks the religious overtones of Maastricht’s angel (again, a fine symbol but not right for everyone).

What’s more, a slice of vlaai can be combined with other visual elements to emphasize particular aspects of Maastricht. Add a small coffee to bring out the sociable aspects of the area, or place against a stone wall to evoke the historical nature of the city. You could even stick a little EU flag out of slice to represent the regions relationship with the rest of Europe. See? Fun.

Other Symbols

Of course the great thing about informal symbols is that we don’t need just one. Limburg could probably reasonably adopt some sort of grape symbol because of the local wine production. Or perhaps a stylized building that looks more like our local architecture that the homes along Amsterdam’s canals.

And if you’re curious, here are a few “official” symbols of the region:

Maastricht Region Branding logo.

Maastricht Gemeente/Town Hall

Do you have ideas of fun and informal symbols?  What reminds you most of the city you live in?

The photo of Vlaai is licensed under a GNL license. This article is not, but you’re welcome to play with the idea all you want. The official symbols are all copyright/trademarked their respective owners.

7 Responses to “A Suggestion for an Informal Symbol of Maastricht”

  1. Invader_Stu says:

    I like the idea of it being the pie. You have my vote.

    For Amsterdam it could either be a drunk tourist passed out in the street or a bike being pulled out of a canal. I’m having a hard time choosing.

    (Despite how that sounds I like Amsterdam very much).

  2. Amanda says:

    Lol. I can just imagine a “caution sign” style of a bike (or maybe drunk tourist) being pulled out of the canal by a crane arm. Maybe I’ll try drawing some of these symbols. ;)

  3. Alison says:

    I vote for the vlaai, too. Or maybe I should say, I’ll vote for it if you share a slice! ;)

    I like that the Domtoren is a symbol of Utrecht. It’s appropriate, since it’s the tallest of the Dutch bell towers and it’s quite distinctive and towers over the skyline. I was happy to see there’s a subtle silhouette of it on the FC Utrecht jerseys.

  4. Amanda says:

    *passes around digital vlaai* ;)

    The Domtoren sounds like a great symbol of Utrecht. I think the Vrijthof gets used that way a lot too, but with all the buildings I think it’s a bit cluttered here.

  5. Gemma says:

    That does looks tasty.

    We don’t really have symbols for our towns. The area I live in is right in the centre of London, so there isn’t really anything that’s produced here that we could make a symbol. I think the red telephone box or the black taxis could work :)

  6. Judy says:

    Vlaai is a good symbol of Maastricht. Or maybe the Bisschopmolen.

  7. homemom3 says:

    I too could go with the pie, heck those look good enough to eat. Yummy, yes I’m hungry. I say a picture of it beside a steaming cup of tea/coffee would look really good.