Type of Place: side-street of restaurants.
Location: Koestraat, near the Onze Lieve Vrouw Square and Cathedral; 6211 Maastricht
A little something different for this week’s “Places”, Koestraat is not a single location, but rather a short, foot-traffic only street lined with restaurants. If you’ve grown tired of the tourists at the Vrijthof and want something a little different than the classic Dutch fair on the Onze Lieve Vrouw square, Koestraat offers a quiet, more intimate setting for dinner or drinks.
Dan and I typically head to Koestraat to eat at Thai Ichi, one of our favorite Thai restaurants in Maastricht, but this narrow street has a nice variety of other eateries available. There is an Indonesian restaurant, tea shop, a couple pizzerias, and more. Of particular note, although we haven’t eaten there yet, is the Beluga Nxt Door. This cocktail bar and restaurant is the “little sister” of the Beluga, a well-known 2 Michlien Star restaurant here in Maastricht. Most of the retaurants also have a little outdoor seating, which narrows the cobblestone street further and keeps foot traffic slow and (most) bikes out.
At the end of Koestraat, you’ll find the Bisschopsmolen, an active water powered grain mill and bakery. Pop inside for a tour or just to see the large waterwheel in the back. Seeing the mill is free, although the tour may not be.
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.
Update: Thank you Sueli for keeping my facts straight.
Type of Place: Cave Tour
Location: Near the Buitengoed Slavante, Slavante 1, Maastricht. Reachable by bike, car, bus, boat, and foot.
Grotten Zonneburg is the larger of the two marl caves (actually mines) in St. Pietersburg that you can tour with a guide and is one of my favorite places in Maastricht. We’ve visited it three times (twice this summer) and since it offers an English language tour more frequently than Grotten Noord I’m sure I’ll experience it again. The Zonneburg tour usually focuses on the history of the caves creation, WWII, and mushroom production. For stories about the invasion of Napoleon, Sint Peiters fort, and aquatic dinosaurs, try Grotten Noord which also offers an excellent touring experience (and one closer to Maastricht).After having been through the caves multiple times I think what really draws me to the experience is the feeling of connecting a little to the people of Maastricht through history. There is something very intimate about descending into a labyrinth of tunnels continuously dug for hundreds of years by local hands.