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Mestreech  (Limburgish)
2017 Maastricht montage.jpg
From top to bottom, left to right: river Meuse in winter · Town Hall by night · sidewalk cafés at Onze Lieve Vrouweplein · Saint Servatius Bridge · Our Lady, Star of the Sea chapel · St. John's and St. Servatius' churches at Vrijthof square · View from Mount Saint Peter
Anthem: Mestreechs Volksleed
Map - NL - Municipality code 0935 (2009).svg
Location in Limburg
Coordinates: 50°51′N5°41′E / 50.850°N 5.683°E / 50.850; 5.683 Coordinates: 50°51′N5°41′E / 50.850°N 5.683°E / 50.850; 5.683
Country Netherlands
Province Limburg
Settled≈ 50 BC
City rights1204
City Hall Maastricht City Hall
5 districts
  • Centrum (Binnenstad, Jekerkwartier, Kommelkwartier, Statenkwartier, Boschstraatkwartier, Sint Maartenspoort, Wyck-Céramique)
  • Noordoost (Beatrixhaven, Borgharen, Itteren, Meerssenhoven, Wyckerpoort, Wittevrouwenveld, Nazareth, Limmel, Amby)
  • Zuidoost (Randwyck, Heugem, Heugemerveld, Scharn, Heer, De Heeg, Vroendaal)
  • Zuidwest (Villapark, Jekerdal, Biesland, Campagne, Wolder, Sint Pieter)
  • Noordwest (Brusselsepoort, Mariaberg, Belfort, Pottenberg, Malpertuis, Caberg, Malberg, Dousberg-Hazendans, Daalhof, Boschpoort, Bosscherveld, Frontenkwartier, Belvédère, Lanakerveld)
  Body Municipal council
   Mayor Annemarie Penn-te Strake (independent)
  Municipality60.12 km2 (23.21 sq mi)
  Land55.99 km2 (21.62 sq mi)
  Water4.13 km2 (1.59 sq mi)
49 m (161 ft)
 (Municipality, January 2019; Urban and Metro, May 2014) [4] [5]
  Density2,171/km2 (5,620/sq mi)
≈ 3,500,000
 Urban population for Dutch-Belgian region; [6] metropolitan population for Dutch-Belgian-German region. [7]
Demonyms (Dutch) Maastrichtenaar;
(Limb.) Mestreechteneer or "Sjeng" (nickname)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code 043

Maastricht ( /ˈmɑːstrɪxt,-ɪkt/ , US also /mɑːˈs-/ , [8] [9] [10] Dutch:  [maːˈstrɪxt] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); [11] Limburgish (incl. Maastrichtian): Mestreech [məˈstʀeˑx] ; French : Maestricht(archaic); Spanish : Mastrique(archaic)) is a city and a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands. It is the capital and largest city of the province of Limburg. Maastricht is located on both sides of the Meuse (Dutch : Maas), at the point where the Jeker joins it. It is adjacent to the border with Belgium.


Maastricht developed from a Roman settlement (Trajectum ad Mosam) to a medieval religious centre. In the 16th century it became a garrison town and in the 19th century an early industrial city. [12] Today, the city is a thriving cultural and regional hub. It became well known through the Maastricht Treaty and as the birthplace of the euro. [13] Maastricht has 1677 national heritage buildings ( Rijksmonumenten ), the second highest number in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam. The city is visited by tourists for shopping and recreation, and has a large international student population. Maastricht is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, which includes the nearby German and Belgian cities of Aachen, Eupen, Hasselt, Liège, and Tongeren. The Meuse-Rhine Euroregion is a metropolis with a population of about 3.9 million with several international universities.



Maastricht is mentioned in ancient documents as [Ad] Treiectinsem [urbem] ab. 575, Treiectensis in 634, Triecto, Triectu in 7th century, Triiect in 768–781, Traiecto in 945, Masetrieth in 1051. [14] [15]

The place name Maastricht is an Old Dutch compound Masa- (> Maas "the Meuse river") + Old Dutch *treiekt, itself borrowed from Gallo-Romance *TRA(I)ECTU cf. its Walloon name li trek, from Classical Latin trajectus ("ford, passage, place to cross a river") with the later addition of Maas "Meuse" to avoid the confusion with the -trecht of Utrecht having exactly the same original form and etymology. The Latin name first appears in medieval documents and it is not known whether *Trajectu(s) was Maastricht's name during Roman times. A resident of Maastricht is referred to as Maastrichtenaar whilst in the local dialect it is either Mestreechteneer or, colloquially, Sjeng (derived from the formerly popular French name Jean).

Early history

Roman sanctuary in the basement of Hotel Derlon Maastricht - rijksmonument 527161 - Museumkelder Derlon 20100821.jpg
Roman sanctuary in the basement of Hotel Derlon

Neanderthal remains have been found to the west of Maastricht (Belvédère excavations). Of a later date are Palaeolithic remains, between 8,000 and 25,000 years old. Celts lived here around 500 BC, at a spot where the river Meuse was shallow and therefore easy to cross.

It is not known when the Romans arrived in Maastricht, or whether the settlement was founded by them. The Romans built a bridge across the Meuse in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Augustus Caesar. The bridge was an important link in the main road between Bavay and Cologne. Roman Maastricht was probably relatively small. Remains of the Roman road, the bridge, a religious shrine, a Roman bath, a granary, some houses and the 4th-century castrum walls and gates, have been excavated. Fragments of provincial Roman sculptures, as well as coins, jewellery, glass, pottery and other objects from Roman Maastricht are on display in the exhibition space of the city's public library (Centre Céramique).

According to legend, the Armenian-born Saint Servatius, Bishop of Tongeren, died in Maastricht in 384 where he was interred along the Roman road, outside the castrum. According to Gregory of Tours bishop Monulph was to have built around 570 the first stone church on the grave of Servatius, the present-day Basilica of Saint Servatius. The city remained an early Christian diocese until it lost the distinction to nearby Liège in the 8th or 9th century.

Middle Ages

The 12th-century Keizerzaal or Emperor's Hall in the westwork of the Basilica of Saint Servatius Maastricht, St-Servaasbasiliek, Keizerzaal, middenbeuk 03.jpg
The 12th-century Keizerzaal or Emperor's Hall in the westwork of the Basilica of Saint Servatius

In the early Middle Ages Maastricht was part of the heartland of the Carolingian Empire along with Aachen and the area around Liège. The town was an important centre for trade and manufacturing. Merovingian coins minted in Maastricht have been found in places throughout Europe. In 881 the town was plundered by the Vikings. In the 10th century it briefly became the capital of the duchy of Lower Lorraine.

During the 12th century the town flourished culturally. The provosts of the church of Saint Servatius held important positions in the Holy Roman Empire during this era. The two collegiate churches were largely rebuilt and redecorated. Maastricht Romanesque stone sculpture and silversmithing are regarded as highlights of Mosan art. Maastricht painters were praised by Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival. Around the same time, the poet Henric van Veldeke wrote a legend of Saint Servatius, one of the earliest works in Dutch literature. The two main churches acquired a wealth of relics and the septennial Maastricht Pilgrimage became a major event.

Unlike most Dutch towns, Maastricht did not receive city rights at a certain date. These developed gradually during its long history. In 1204 the city's dual authority was formalised in a treaty, with the prince-bishops of Liège and the dukes of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. Soon afterwards the first ring of medieval walls were built. In 1275, the old Roman bridge collapsed under the weight of a procession, killing 400 people. A replacement, funded by church indulgences, was built slightly to the north and survives until today, the Sint Servaasbrug. [16]

Throughout the Middle Ages, the city remained a centre for trade and manufacturing principally of wool and leather but gradually economic decline set in. After a brief period of economic prosperity around 1500, the city's economy suffered during the wars of religion of the 16th and 17th centuries, and recovery did not happen until the industrial revolution in the early 19th century.

16th to 18th centuries

The Siege of Maastricht (1579) as depicted in the Palace of Aranjuez 1579 Siege of Maastricht - Aranjuez Palace.jpg
The Siege of Maastricht (1579) as depicted in the Palace of Aranjuez

The important strategic location of Maastricht resulted in the construction of an impressive array of fortifications around the city during this period. The Spanish and Dutch garrisons became an important factor in the city's economy. In 1579 the city was sacked by the Spanish army led by the Duke of Parma (Siege of Maastricht, 1579). For over fifty years the Spanish crown took over the role previously held by the dukes of Brabant in the joint sovereignty over Maastricht. In 1632 the city was conquered by Prince Frederick Henry of Orange and the Dutch States General replaced the Spanish crown in the joint government of Maastricht.

Another Siege of Maastricht (1673) took place during the Franco-Dutch War. In June 1673, Louis XIV laid siege to the city because French supply lines were being threatened. During this siege, Vauban, the famous French military engineer, developed a new tactic in order to break down the strong fortifications surrounding Maastricht. His systematic approach remained the standard method of attacking fortresses until the 20th century. On 25 June 1673, while preparing to storm the city, captain-lieutenant Charles de Batz de Castelmore, also known as the comte d'Artagnan , was killed by a musket shot outside the Tongerse Poort. This event was embellished in Alexandre Dumas' novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne , part of the D'Artagnan Romances. French troops occupied Maastricht from 1673 to 1678.

In 1748 the French again conquered the city at what is known as the Second French Siege of Maastricht, during the War of Austrian Succession. The French took the city for the last time in 1794, when the condominium was dissolved and Maastricht was annexed to the First French Empire (1794–1814). For twenty years Maastricht remained the capital of the French département of Meuse-Inférieure.

19th and early 20th century

19th-century industry: Maastricht potteries in Boschstraat Boschstraat Sphinx, 1865.jpg
19th-century industry: Maastricht potteries in Boschstraat

After the Napoleonic era, Maastricht became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. It was made the capital of the newly formed Province of Limburg (1815–1839). When the southern provinces of the newly formed kingdom seceded in 1830, the Dutch garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king, William I, even when most of the inhabitants of the town and the surrounding area sided with the Belgian revolutionaries. In 1831, arbitration by the Great Powers allocated the city to the Netherlands. However, neither the Dutch nor the Belgians agreed to this and the arrangement was not implemented until the 1839 Treaty of London. During this period of isolation Maastricht developed into an early industrial town.

Plate commemorating the liberation, 14 Sept. 1944 Maastricht Liberation Plate, 14 Sept. 1944.jpg
Plate commemorating the liberation, 14 Sept. 1944

Because of its eccentric location in the southeastern Netherlands, and its geographical and cultural proximity to Belgium and Germany, integration of Maastricht and Limburg into the Netherlands did not come about easily. Maastricht retained a distinctly non-Dutch appearance during much of the 19th century and it was not until the First World War that the city was forced to look northwards.

Like the rest of the Netherlands, Maastricht remained neutral during World War I. However, being wedged between Germany and Belgium, it received large numbers of refugees, putting a strain on the city's resources. Early in World War II, the city was taken by the Germans by surprise during the Battle of Maastricht of May 1940. On 13 and 14 September 1944 it was the first Dutch city to be liberated by Allied forces of the US Old Hickory Division. The three Meuse bridges were destroyed or severely damaged during the war. As elsewhere in the Netherlands, the majority of Maastricht Jews died in Nazi concentration camps. [17]

After World War II

Prime minister Dries van Agt presiding over the 1981 European Council in the town hall Europese Raad in Maastricht, 27a Van Agt e.a. tijdens conferentie, 28a en 29a overzicht tijdens conferentie met links Thatcher, Bestanddeelnr 931-3910.jpg
Prime minister Dries van Agt presiding over the 1981 European Council in the town hall

During the latter half of the century, traditional industries (such as Maastricht's potteries) declined and the city's economy shifted to a service economy. Maastricht University was founded in 1976. Several European institutions found their base in Maastricht. In 1981 and 1991 European Councils were held in Maastricht, the latter one resulting a year later in the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, leading to the creation of the European Union and the euro. [18] Since 1988, The European Fine Art Fair, regarded as the world's leading art fair, annually draws in some of the wealthiest art collectors.

In recent years, Maastricht launched several campaigns against drug-dealing in an attempt to stop foreign buyers taking advantage of the liberal Dutch legislation and causing trouble in the downtown area. [19]

Since the 1990s, large parts of the city have been refurbished, including the areas around the main railway station and the Maasboulevard promenade along the Meuse, the Entre Deux and Mosae Forum shopping centres, as well as some of the main shopping streets. A prestigious quarter designed by international architects and including the new Bonnefanten Museum, a public library, and a theatre was built on the grounds of the former Société Céramique factory near the town centre. Further large-scale projects, such as the redevelopment of the area around the A2 motorway, the Sphinx Quarter and the Belvédère area are under construction.



Typical street in the Jekerkwartier, part of the city centre Jekerkwartier07.jpg
Typical street in the Jekerkwartier, part of the city centre
Dutch topographic map of Maastricht, March 2014 Maastricht-plaats-OpenTopo.jpg
Dutch topographic map of Maastricht, March 2014

Maastricht consists of five districts (stadsdelen) and 44 neighbourhoods (wijken). Each neighbourhood has a number which corresponds to its postal code.

  1. Maastricht Centrum (Binnenstad, Jekerkwartier, Kommelkwartier, Statenkwartier, Boschstraatkwartier, Sint Maartenspoort, Wyck-Céramique)
  2. South-West (Villapark, Jekerdal, Biesland, Campagne, Wolder, Sint Pieter)
  3. North-West (Brusselsepoort, Mariaberg, Belfort, Pottenberg, Malpertuis, Caberg, Malberg, Dousberg-Hazendans, Daalhof, Boschpoort, Bosscherveld, Frontenkwartier, Belvédère, Lanakerveld)
  4. North-East (Beatrixhaven, Borgharen, Itteren, Meerssenhoven, Wyckerpoort, Wittevrouwenveld, Nazareth, Limmel, Amby)
  5. South-East (Randwyck, Heugem, Heugemerveld, Scharn, Heer, De Heeg, Vroendaal)

The neighbourhoods of Itteren, Borgharen, Limmel, Amby, Heer, Heugem, Scharn, Oud-Caberg, Sint Pieter and Wolder all used to be separate municipalities or villages until they were annexed by the city of Maastricht in the course of the 20th century.

Neighbouring municipalities

The outlying areas of the following municipalities are bordering the municipality of Maastricht directly.

Clockwise from north-east to north-west:

(B = Situated in Belgium)


Maastricht's city limits has an international border with Belgium. Most of it borders Belgium's Flemish region, but a small part to the south also has a border with the Walloon region. Both countries are part of Europe's Schengen Area thus are open without border controls.


Maastricht features the same climate as most of the Netherlands (Cfb, Oceanic climate), however, due to its more inland location in between hills, summers tend to be warmer (especially in the Meuse valley, which lies 70 metres lower than the meteorological station) and winters a bit colder, although the difference is only noticeable on just a few days a year. The highest temperature recorded was on 25 July 2019 at 39.6 °C (103.3 °F). [20]

Climate data for Maastricht
Record high °C (°F)17.1
Average high °C (°F)5.2
Daily mean °C (°F)2.7
Average low °C (°F)0.0
Record low °C (°F)−19.3
Average precipitation mm (inches)65.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)1210129101010109101212126
Average snowy days77520000003631
Average relative humidity (%)87848074737575768285898981
Mean monthly sunshine hours 59.979.3119.3164.0194.9188.9202.8187.3140.0113.665.944.91,560.8
Source 1: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1981–2010 normals, snowy days normals for 1971–2000) [21]
Source 2: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1971–2000 extremes) [22]


Historical population

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: Lourens & Lucassen 1997, pp. 32–33 (1400-1795)
Statistics Netherlands (1970-2010)

Inhabitants by nationality

Maastricht residents by nationality - Top 10 (1 January 2014) [23]
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands 107,418109,722116,171
Flag of Germany.svg Germany 3,8691,956783
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium 1,055946909
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 815386280
Flag of Italy.svg Italy 653387280
Flag of the United States.svg United States 623277162
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China 59524887
Flag of Spain.svg Spain 431232241
Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey 404368404
Flag of France.svg France 351214120

Inhabitants by country of birth

Maastricht residents by country of birth - Top 10 (1 January 2013) [24]
Country of birth201320102000
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands 100,269102,433109,632
Flag of Germany.svg Germany 4,1002,4671,444
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium 1,9201,8391,900
Flag of Indonesia.svg Indonesia 1,1991,2671,556
Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey 919836784
Flag of Morocco.svg Morocco 838867859
Former Soviet Union 842564183
Flag of the United States.svg United States 753383217
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 677404310
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China (excl. Hong Kong and Macau)651373215


Maastricht is a city of linguistic diversity, partly as a result of its location at the crossroads of multiple language areas and its international student population.

Religions in Maastricht (2013) [25]

   Roman Catholic (60.1%)
  Other Christian denominations (2.2%)
   Islam (3.3%)
   Hinduism (0.1%)
   Buddhism (0.4%)
   Judaism (0.2%)
   No affiliation (30.9%)
  • Dutch is the national language and the language of elementary and secondary education (excluding international institutions) as well as administration. Dutch in Maastricht is often spoken with a distinctive Limburgish accent, which should not be confused with the Limburgish language.
  • Limburgish (or Limburgian) is the overlapping term of the tonal dialects spoken in the Dutch and the Belgian provinces of Limburg. The Maastrichtian dialect (Mestreechs) is only one of many variants of Limburgish. It is characterised by stretched vowels and some French influence on its vocabulary. In recent years the Maastricht dialect has been in decline (see dialect levelling) and a language switch to Standard Dutch has been noted. [26]
  • French used to be the language of education in Maastricht. In the 18th century the language occupied a powerful position as the judicial and cultural language, and it was used throughout the following century by the upper classes. [27] Between 1851 and 1892 a Francophone newspaper (Le Courrier de la Meuse) was published in Maastricht. The language is often part of secondary school curricula. Many proper names and some street names are French and the language has left many traces in the local dialect.
  • German, like French, is often part of secondary school curricula. Due to Maastricht's geographic proximity to Germany and the great number of German students in the city, German is widely spoken.
  • English has become an important language in education. At Maastricht University and Hogeschool Zuyd it is the language of instruction for many courses. Many foreign students and expatriates use English as a lingua franca. English is also a mandatory subject in Dutch elementary and secondary schools.


In 2010–2014, 69.8% of the population of Maastricht regarded themselves as religious. 60.4% of the total population stated an affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. 13.9% attended a religious ceremony at least once a month. [28]


ENCI quarry SintPietersbergWegLangsGroeve008.jpg
ENCI quarry
Office park Randwyck-Noord RandwyckNoordKantoren07.jpg
Office park Randwyck-Noord

Private companies based in Maastricht

Public institutions

Provincial Government Buildings Provincial Government Buildings on the Meuse.jpg
Provincial Government Buildings
European Institute of Public Administration 2017 Maastricht, EIPA 09.jpg
European Institute of Public Administration

Since the 1980s, a number of European and international institutions have made Maastricht their base. They provide an increasing number of employment opportunities for expats living in the Maastricht area.

Culture and tourism

Medieval city wall (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwewal) Maastricht 2008 OLV Wall.jpg
Medieval city wall (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwewal)
View of Maastricht from the fortress on Mount Saint Peter FortStPieter57.jpg
View of Maastricht from the fortress on Mount Saint Peter
Vrijthof with Saint John's (left) and Saint Servatius Basilica Vrijthof in Maastricht.jpg
Vrijthof with Saint John's (left) and Saint Servatius Basilica
View of Our Lady's from the church tower of Saint John's OLV-01 (cropped).jpg
View of Our Lady's from the church tower of Saint John's
Christmas decorations Onze Lieve Vrouweplein Maastricht, kerstverlichting 2014, Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein04.JPG
Christmas decorations Onze Lieve Vrouweplein
Markt and town hall 20130504 Maastricht 06 Stadhuis.JPG
Markt and town hall
13th-century Dominican church converted into a bookstore 13th century Dominican church converted into a bookstore in Maastricht, the Netherlands.JPG
13th-century Dominican church converted into a bookstore
Slavante on the slopes of Mount Saint Peter 2016 Maastricht, St-Pietersberg, Slavante 08.jpg
Slavante on the slopes of Mount Saint Peter
The landmark tower of the Bonnefanten Museum on the east bank of the Meuse in Wyck-Ceramique 20130504 Maastricht Ceramique seen from West bank of the Meuse 01 Bonnefantenmuseum.JPG
The landmark tower of the Bonnefanten Museum on the east bank of the Meuse in Wyck-Céramique
Medieval art in the Bonnefantenmuseum 2018 Bonnefantenmuseum, collectie Neutelings, zaaloverzicht 1.jpg
Medieval art in the Bonnefantenmuseum
Chest of Saint Servatius in the Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servatius Arca di san servazio, legno, rame dorato, pietre preziose, gemme e smalti, 1160 ca. 01.jpg
Chest of Saint Servatius in the Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servatius
Maastricht University faculty on their way to the annual dies natalis Maastricht-39e Diesviering in de St. Janskerk (Universiteit Maastricht) (5a).JPG
Maastricht University faculty on their way to the annual dies natalis
TEFAF, Maastricht's prestigious art fair Maastricht, TEFAF2014-13.jpg
TEFAF, Maastricht's prestigious art fair
Giants' Parade, 2019: Gigantius of Maastricht 10e internationale Reuzenstoet - Maastricht - 2 June 2019 - 34.jpg
Giants' Parade, 2019: Gigantius of Maastricht

Sights of Maastricht

Maastricht is known in the Netherlands and beyond for its lively squares, narrow streets, and historic buildings. The city has 1,677 national heritage buildings ( rijksmonumenten ), more than any Dutch city outside Amsterdam. In addition to that there are 3,500 locally listed buildings (gemeentelijke monumenten). The entire city centre is a conservation area (beschermd stadsgezicht). The tourist information office (VVV) is located in the Dinghuis, a medieval courthouse overlooking Grote Staat. Maastricht's main sights include:

Museums in Maastricht

Events and festivals

Furthermore, the Maastricht Exposition and Congress Centre (MECC) hosts many events throughout the year.


A pond in Stadspark, Maastricht's main park Maastricht.jpg
A pond in Stadspark, Maastricht's main park
Relaxing in Charles Eyckpark 20130504 Maastricht Ceramique 09 Charles Eyckpark.JPG
Relaxing in Charles Eyckpark
Sheep on Mount Saint Peter SintPietersbergSchaapskudde007.jpg
Sheep on Mount Saint Peter
Jeker valley with vineyards Jekerdal met Wijngaarden.jpg
Jeker valley with vineyards


There are several city parks and recreational areas in Maastricht: [31]

Natural areas


Student rowing club MSRV Saurus in Zuid-Willemsvaart 2018 Maastricht, Zuid-Willemsvaart 13.jpg
Student rowing club MSRV Saurus in Zuid-Willemsvaart


City council

Senioren Partij Maastricht (SPM)356
CDA 7 (6)75
PvdA 1375
D66 245
SP 325
GroenLinks 544
VVD 4 (3)43
TON / Partij Veilig Maastricht (PVM)-23
Stadsbelangen Mestreech (SBM)221
Liberale Partij Maastricht (LPM)(1)11
Christelijke Volkspartij (Maastricht) (CVP)(1)11

The municipal government of Maastricht consists of a city council, a mayor and a number of aldermen. The city council, a 39-member legislative body directly elected for four years, appoints the aldermen on the basis of a coalition agreement between two or more parties after each election. The 2006 municipal elections in the Netherlands were, as often, dominated by national politics and led to a shift from right to left throughout the country. In Maastricht, the traditional broad governing coalition of Christian Democrats (CDA), Labour (PvdA), Greens (GreenLeft) and Liberals (VVD) was replaced by a centre-left coalition of Labour, Christian Democrats and Greens. Two Labour aldermen were appointed, along with one Christian Democrat and one Green alderman. Due to internal disagreements, one of the VVD council members left the party in 2005 and formed a new liberal group in 2006 (Liberalen Maastricht). The other opposition parties in the current city council are the Socialist Party (SP), the Democrats (D66) and two local parties (Stadsbelangen Mestreech (SBM) and the Seniorenpartij).

Aldermen and mayors

The aldermen and the mayor make up the executive branch of the municipal government. After the previous mayor, Gerd Leers (CDA), decided to step down in January 2010 following the 'Bulgarian Villa' affair, an affair concerning a holiday villa project in Byala, Bulgaria, in which the mayor was alleged to have been involved in shady deals to raise the value of villas he had ownership of. Up until July 1, 2015 the mayor of Maastricht was Onno Hoes, a Liberal (VVD), the only male mayor in the country, who officially was married to a male person. In 2013 Hoes was the subject of some political commotion, after facts had been disclosed about intimate affairs with several other male persons. The affair had no consequences for his political career. [35] Because of a new affair in 2014 Hoes eventually stepped down. [36]

Since July 1, 2015 the current mayor of Maastricht has been Annemarie Penn-te Strake. [37] Penn is independent and serves no political party, although her husband is a former [38] chairman of the Maastricht Seniorenpartij. [39] She has served for the Dutch judicial system for many years in many different positions. During her tenure as mayor she still serves as attorney general. [40]


One controversial issue which has dominated Maastricht politics for many years and which has also affected national and international politics, is the city's approach to soft drugs. Under the pragmatic Dutch soft drug policy, a policy of non-enforcement, individuals may buy and use cannabis from 'coffeeshops' (cannabis bars) under certain conditions. Maastricht, like many other border towns, has seen a growing influx of 'drug tourists', mainly young people from Belgium, France and Germany, who provide a large amount of revenue for the coffeeshops (around 13) in the city centre. The city government, most notably ex-mayor Leers, have been actively promoting drug policy reform in order to deal with its negative side effects.

Two 'coffeeshop' boats at Maasboulevard 2018 Maastricht, Maaspromenade, coffeeshop boten 2.jpg
Two 'coffeeshop' boats at Maasboulevard

One of the proposals, known as the 'Coffee Corner Plan', proposed by then-mayor Leers and supported unanimously by the city council in 2008, was to relocate the coffeeshops from the city centre to the outskirts of the town (in some cases near the national Dutch-Belgian border). [41] The purpose of this plan was to reduce the impact of drug tourism on the city centre, such as parking problems and the illegal sale of hard drugs in the vicinity of the coffeeshops, and to monitor the sale and use of cannabis more closely in areas away from the crowded city centre. The Coffee Corner Plan, however, has met with fierce opposition from neighbouring municipalities (some in Belgium) and from members of the Dutch and Belgian parliament. The plan has been the subject of various legal challenges and has not been carried out up to this date (2014).

On 16 December 2010, the Court of Justice of the European Union upheld a local Maastricht ban on the sale of cannabis to foreign tourists, restricting entrance to coffeeshops to residents of Maastricht. [42] The ban did not affect scientific or medical usage. In 2011, the Dutch government introduced a similar national system, the wietpas ("cannabis pass"), restricting access to Dutch coffeeshops to residents of the Netherlands. After protests from local mayors about the difficulty of implementing the issuing of wietpasses, Dutch parliament in 2012 agreed to replace the pass by any proof of residency. [43] The new system has led to a slight reduction in drug tourism to cannabis shops in Maastricht but at the same time to an increase of drug dealing on the street.


A2 motorway and Koning Willem-Alexandertunnel 2019 Maastricht, Europaplein (3).jpg
A2 motorway and Koning Willem-Alexandertunnel
Maastricht main railway station 2010.07.20.155053 Bahnhof Maastricht.jpg
Maastricht main railway station
Arriva bus at Boschstraat 20190707 maastricht068a.jpg
Arriva bus at Boschstraat
Maastricht Aachen Airport Maastricht AachenAirport Terminal.jpg
Maastricht Aachen Airport

By car

Maastricht is served by the A2 and A79 motorways. The city can be reached from Brussels and Cologne in approximately one hour and from Amsterdam in about two and a half hours.

The A2 motorway runs through Maastricht in a double-decked tunnel. Before 2016, the A2 motorway ran through the city; heavily congested, it caused air pollution in the urban area. Construction of a two-level tunnel designed to solve these problems started in 2011 and was opened (in stages) by December 2016. [44]

In spite of several large underground car parks, parking in the city centre forms a major problem during weekends and bank holidays because of the large numbers of visitors. Parking fees are deliberately high to encourage visitors to use public transport or park and ride facilities away from the centre.

By train

Maastricht is served by three rail operators, all of which call at the main Maastricht railway station near the centre and two of which call at the smaller Maastricht Randwyck, near the business and university district. Only Arriva also calls at Maastricht Noord, which opened in 2013. Intercity trains northwards to Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Den Bosch and Utrecht are operated by Dutch Railways. The National Railway Company of Belgium runs south to Liège in Belgium. The line to Heerlen, Valkenburg and Kerkrade is operated by Arriva. The former railway to Aachen was closed down in the 1980s. A small section of the old westbound railway to Hasselt (Belgium) was restored in recent years and will be used as a modern tramline, scheduled to open in 2023. [45]

By tram

The Dutch and Flemish governments reached an agreement in 2014 to build a new tram route, the Hasselt – Maastricht tramway, as part of the larger Spartacus scheme. It was scheduled to take three years, from 2015 to 2018, and to cost €283 million. However, the planning process has been heavily delayed, and as of 2018, construction has not yet started. The tram is now scheduled to be operating in 2024. [46] When completed, the tram will carry passengers from the city centre of Maastricht to the city centre of Hasselt in 30 minutes. It will be operated by the Flemish transport company De Lijn, with 2 scheduled stops in Maastricht and another 10 in Flanders. [47]

By bus

Regular bus lines connect the city centre, outer areas, business districts and railway stations. The regional Arriva bus network extends to most parts of South Limburg and Aachen (Germany). Regional buses by De Lijn connect Maastricht with Hasselt, Tongeren and Maasmechelen, and one bus connects Maastricht with Liège, operated by TEC. Various bus companies such as Flixbus and Eurolines provide intercity bus services from Maastricht to many European destinations.

By air

Maastricht is served by the nearby Maastricht Aachen Airport ( IATA : MST, ICAO : EHBK), in nearby Beek, and it is informally referred to by that name. The airport is located about 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of the city centre. The airport is served by Corendon Dutch Airlines and Ryanair which operate scheduled flights to destinations around the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and North-Africa . There are also charter flights to Lourdes which are operated by Enter Air.

By boat

Maastricht has a river port (Beatrixhaven) and is connected by water with Belgium and the rest of the Netherlands through the river Meuse, the Juliana Canal, the Albert Canal and the Zuid-Willemsvaart. Although there are no regular boat connections to other cities, various organized boat trips for tourists connect Maastricht with Belgium cities such as Liège.

Distances to other cities

These distances are as the crow flies and so do not represent actual overland distances.

  • Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Liège: 25.5 km (15.8 mi) south
  • Flag of Germany.svg Aachen: 31.0 km (19.3 mi) east
  • Flag of the Netherlands.svg Eindhoven: 66.8 km (41.5 mi) north-west
  • Flag of Germany.svg Düsseldorf: 86.2 km (53.6 mi) north-east
  • Flag of Germany.svg Cologne: 89.6 km (55.7 mi) east
  • Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Brussels: 95.1 km (59.1 mi) west
  • Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Antwerp: 97.8 km (60.8 mi) north-west
  • Flag of Germany.svg Bonn: 99.9 km (62.1 mi) south-east
  • Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Charleroi: 102.1 km (63.4 mi) south-west
  • Flag of Luxembourg.svg Luxembourg City: 141.4 km (87.9 mi) south
  • Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Ghent: 141.5 km (87.9 mi) west
  • Flag of the Netherlands.svg Utrecht: 142.4 km (88.5 mi) north-west
  • Flag of the Netherlands.svg Rotterdam: 144.5 km (89.8 mi) north-west
  • Flag of the Netherlands.svg Amsterdam: 175.1 km (108.8 mi) north-west
  • Flag of France.svg Lille: 186.3 km (115.8 mi) west
  • Flag of Germany.svg Frankfurt am Main: 228.8 km (142.2 mi) south-east
  • Flag of the Netherlands.svg Groningen: 269.6 km (167.5 mi) north
  • Flag of France.svg Strasbourg: 288.7 km (179.4 mi) south-east
  • Flag of France.svg Paris: 325.6 km (202.3 mi) south-west
  • Flag of Germany.svg Hannover: 325.7 km (202.4 mi) north-east
  • Flag of Germany.svg Stuttgart: 341.3 km (212.1 mi) south-east
  • Flag of Switzerland.svg Basel: 390.2 km (242.5 mi) south-east
  • Flag of the United Kingdom.svg London: 411.5 km (255.7 mi) north-west
  • Flag of Switzerland.svg Zürich: 438.7 km (272.6 mi) south-east


Maastricht University, Campus Randwyck Maastricht University - Campus Randwyck.jpg
Maastricht University, Campus Randwyck
Students at work at UM Law School Maastricht, Oud Gouvernement02.jpg
Students at work at UM Law School
Hotel Management School at Bethlehem Castle Kasteel Bethlehem.jpg
Hotel Management School at Bethlehem Castle

Secondary education

Tertiary education


International relations

Twin towns

Maastricht is twinned with:

Notable people

Peter Debye Debije-boerhaave.jpg
Peter Debye
Tom Dumoulin Giro d'Italia 2017, dumoulin (34343448193).jpg
Tom Dumoulin
Jan Pieter Minckeleers 20071012Minckelers.jpg
Jan Pieter Minckeleers
Henrietta d'Oultremont Henriette-d'Oultremont.jpg
Henrietta d'Oultremont
Andre Rieu Andre Rieu 2010.jpg
André Rieu
Victor de Stuers Maastricht - Victor de Stuers - Kruisherengang 12 - 20100717.jpg
Victor de Stuers

Born in Maastricht

Residing in Maastricht

Saint Servatius Busto-reliquiario di san servazio, in rame dorato con gemme, 1580 ca. 02.jpg
Saint Servatius

Local anthem

In 2002 the municipal government officially adopted a local anthem (Limburgish (Maastrichtian variant): Mestreechs Volksleed, Dutch : Maastrichts Volkslied) composed of lyrics in Maastrichtian. The theme was originally written by Ciprian Porumbescu (1853–1883). [48]

Vrijthof square, early morning

See also

Related Research Articles

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Vrijthof Square in Maastricht, the Netherlands

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Pilgrimage of the Relics, Maastricht

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