View of Maastricht city centre with its ancient Roman bridge on the Meuse river
|Anthem: Mestreechs Volksleed|
Location in Limburg
|Settled||≈ 500 BC|
|• Body||Municipal council|
|• Mayor||Onno Hoes (VVD)|
|• Municipality||60.03 km2 (23.18 sq mi)|
|• Land||56.81 km2 (21.93 sq mi)|
|• Water||3.22 km2 (1.24 sq mi)|
|Elevation||49 m (161 ft)|
|Population (Municipality, January 2014; Urban and Metro, January 2014)|
|• Density||2,153/km2 (5,580/sq mi)|
|Urban and metro population for Dutch area only, thus excluding Belgian environs|
(Limb.) Mestreechteneer or Sjeng
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|• El Rama||Nicaragua|
Maastricht ([maːˈstʁɪçt] (southern Dutch and locally) or [maːˈstɾɪxt] ( ) (northern Dutch); Limburgish (incl. Maastrichtian): Mestreech [məˈstʁeːç]; French: Maestricht (archaic); Spanish: Mastrique (archaic)) is a town and a municipality in the Southeast of the European country the Netherlands. It is the capital city in the province of Limburg.
In history Maastricht developed from a Belgic settlement, that in the Gallic Wars was conquered by the Romans and thus became a Roman settlement, to a religious centre, a garrison city and an early industrial city. Nowadays, it is known as a city of especially culture (including local folklore) and education. Maastricht's rich history shows from the fact that in this town no less than 1677 national heritage sites (Rijksmonumenten) are located, which is the second highest amount in a Dutch town, after Amsterdam. Furthermore, it has become known, by way of the Maastricht Treaty, as the birthplace of the European Union, European citizenship, and the single European currency, the euro. The town is popular with tourists for shopping and recreation, and has a large growing international student population. Maastricht is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network and is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, which includes nearby cities Aachen, Eupen, Hasselt, Liège and Tongeren.
- 1 Neighbourhoods
- 2 Languages
- 3 History
- 4 Climate
- 5 Culture and tourism
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Education
- 8 Economy
- 9 Sports
- 10 Politics
- 11 Transport
- 12 International relations
- 13 Well-known natives of Maastricht
- 14 Local anthem
- 15 Gallery
- 16 See also
- 17 References
- 18 External links
Maastricht consists of five districts and over 40 neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood has a number which corresponds to its postal code.
- Maastricht Centrum (Binnenstad, Jekerkwartier, Kommelkwartier, Statenkwartier, Boschstraatkwartier, Sint Maartenspoort, Wyck-Céramique)
- South-West (Villapark, Jekerdal, Biesland, Campagne, Wolder, Sint Pieter)
- North-West (Brusselsepoort, Mariaberg, Belfort, Pottenberg, Malpertuis, Caberg, Malberg, Dousberg-Hazendans, Daalhof, Boschpoort, Bosscherveld, Frontenkwartier, Belvédère, Lanakerveld)
- North-East (Beatrixhaven, Borgharen, Itteren, Meerssenhoven, Wyckerpoort, Wittevrouwenveld, Nazareth, Limmel, Amby)
- 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 twentieth century.
Maastricht is a city of linguistic diversity, as a result of among others its location at the crossroads of multiple language areas and its international student population.
- 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 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.
- French formerly was the language of education in Maastricht. As of the 18th century the language occupied a powerful position as judicial and cultural language, with it being used and throughout the following century by the upper classes. Between 1851 and 1892 a Francophone newspaper (Le Courrier de la Meuse) was published in Maastricht. Currently, 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.
Etymology and 'oldest city in the Netherlands' dispute
The name Maastricht is derived from Latin Trajectum ad Mosam (or Mosae Trajectum), meaning 'crossing at the Meuse', and referring to the bridge built by the Romans. The Latin name first appears in medieval documents and it is not known whether this was Maastricht's official name during Roman times.
There is some debate as to whether Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands. Some people consider Nijmegen the oldest, mainly because it was the first settlement in the Netherlands to receive Roman city rights. Maastricht never did, but it may be considerably older as a settlement. In addition, Maastricht can claim uninterrupted habitation since Roman times. A large number of archeological finds confirms this. Nijmegen has a gap in its history: there is practically no evidence of habitation in the early Middle Ages.
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).
Neanderthal remains have been found to the west of Maastricht (Belvédère excavations). Of a later date are Paleolithic 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 exactly when the Romans arrived in Maastricht, or whether the settlement was founded by them. It is known, though, that the Romans built a bridge over 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, jewelry, 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 and was buried there along the Roman road, outside the castrum. According to Gregory of Tours it was bishop Monulph who, around 570, built 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 this position to nearby Liège in the early 8th century.
In the early Middle Ages Maastricht was, along with Aachen and the area around Liège, part of the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The town was an important centre for trade and manufacturing. Merovingian coins minted in Maastricht have been found in many places throughout Europe. In the 10th century Maastricht 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 city's two main churches were largely rebuilt and redecorated. Maastricht Romanesque stone sculpture is regarded as one of the 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.
Shortly after 1200 the city received dual authority, with the prince-bishops of Liège and the dukes of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. Maastricht received city rights in 1204. Soon afterwards the first ring of medieval walls were built. Throughout the Middle Ages, the city remained a centre for trade and manufacturing of wool and leather but gradually economic decline set in. After a brief period of economic prosperity in the 15th century, 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 19th century
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 under general Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma (Siege of Maastricht, 1579). For over fifty years the Spanish crown took over the role of the dukes of Brabant in the joint sovereignty over Maastricht. In 1632 the city was conquered by Frederick Henry, Prince 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 battle supply lines were being threatened. During this siege, Vauban, the famous French military engineer, developed a new strategy 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 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 once 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 one last time in 1794, when the condominium was dissolved and Maastricht was annexed to the First French Empire. For twenty years Maastricht was the capital of the French département of Meuse-Inférieure.
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 (Belgian Revolution), the Dutch garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king, William I of the Netherlands, 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 it was not until the 1839 Treaty of London that the arrangement was implemented.
Because of its eccentric location in the Netherlands, and its geographical and cultural proximity to Belgium, 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.
20th century and onwards
Maastricht did not escape the ravages of World War II. It was quickly taken by the Germans during the Battle of Maastricht in May 1940, but on 14 September 1944 it was also the first Dutch city to be liberated by allied forces. The three Meuse bridges were destroyed or severely damaged during the war. The majority of Maastricht Jews were murdered in Nazi concentration camps.
The latter half of the century saw the decline of traditional industries (such as the famous Maastricht potteries) and a shift to a service economy. Maastricht University was founded in 1976. Several European institutions have found their base in Maastricht. In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was negotiated and signed here, leading to the creation of the European Union and the euro.
In recent years, under mayor Gerd Leers, Maastricht launched a campaign against drug-related problems. Leers instigated a controversial plan to relocate some of the cannabis coffee shops—where the purchase of soft drugs in limited quantities is tolerated—from the city centre to the outskirts, in an attempt to stop (foreign) buyers from causing trouble in the downtown area. Although the so-called "coffee corner plan" has not been entirely abandoned, the new mayor Onno Hoes has given priority to the Dutch government's approach of limiting entrance to 'coffee shops' to Dutch adults only, and to tackle the problem of drug runners in cooperation with the city of Rotterdam (where the majority of drug runners are from).
On a positive note, large parts of the city centre were thoroughly refurbished in recent years, including the area around the main railway station, the main shopping streets, the Entre Deux and Mosae Forum shopping centres, and the Maasboulevard promenade along the Meuse. Also, a new quarter, including the new Bonnefanten Museum, a public library, a theater and several housing blocks designed by international architects, was built on the grounds of the former Céramique potteries near the town centre. As a result, Maastricht looks notably smarter. Further large-scale projects, such as the redevelopment of the Sphinx and Belvédère areas, are underway.
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 meters lower than the meteorological station) and winters a bit colder, although the difference is only remarkable at a few days a year. Notable is the second highest temperature recorded in the Netherlands, and the highest temperature of a still existing station on June 27, 1947 at 38.4 °C (101.1 °F).
|Climate data for Maastricht|
|Record high °C (°F)||15.5
|Average high °C (°F)||5.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.7
|Average low °C (°F)||0.0
|Record low °C (°F)||−19.3
|Precipitation mm (inches)||65.3
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||12||10||12||9||10||10||10||10||9||10||12||12||126|
|Avg. snowy days||7||7||5||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||6||30|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||59.9||79.3||119.3||164.0||194.9||188.9||202.8||187.3||140.0||113.6||65.9||44.9||1,560.8|
|Source #1: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1981–2010 normals, snowy days normals for 1971–2000)|
|Source #2: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1971–2000 extremes)|
Culture and tourism
Sights of Maastricht
Maastricht is known for its picturesque squares, romantic streets, and historical buildings. The tourist information office (VVV) is located in the Dinghuis, a 15th-century former town hall and law courts building on the corner of Grote Staat and Kleine Staat. The main sights include:
- City Fortifications, including:
- Helpoort: a 13th-century town gate, the oldest in the Netherlands
- Fragments of the first and second medieval city walls
- Hoge Fronten (or Linie van Du Moulin): remnants of 17th- and 18th-century fortifications with a number of well-preserved bastions and an early 19th-century fortress, Fort Willem
- Casemate, an underground network of tunnels, built as sheltered emplacements for guns and cannons. These tunnels run for several miles underneath the city's fortifications. Guided tours are available.
- Binnenstad: inner-city shopping district, including Grote and Kleine Staat, and high-end shopping street Stokstraat. Maastricht is also well known for its cafés, pubs and restaurants.
- Dinghuis, a medieval courthouse with an early Renaissance façade
- Entre Deux, a recently rebuilt shopping centre which has won several international awards. It includes a bookstore located inside a former 13th-century Dominican church. In 2008, British newspaper The Guardian proclaimed this the world's most beautiful bookshop.
- Vrijthof, the best-known square in the city. Sights:
- Sint-Servaas Basiliek, the Romanesque church of Saint Servatius. The tomb of Saint Servatius in the crypt is a favoured place of pilgrimage: Pope John Paul II visited here in 1985.
- Sint-Janskerk, a sandstone Gothic church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist with a distinctive red tower. It is the city's main Protestant church.
- Theater aan het Vrijthof, the main city theatre, with a Neoclassical façade.
- Onze Lieve Vrouweplein, a picturesque tree-lined square with an abundance of pavement cafes. Sights:
- Basilica of Our Lady, an 11th-century church.
- Derlon Museumkelder, a small museum in the basement of Hotel Derlon with Roman remains.
- Markt; the Market Square was completely refurbished in 2006-2007 and is now virtually traffic free. Sights include:
- Bassin, a restored early 19th-century inner harbor with restaurants and cafés. The surroundings are currently being developed into a cultural hotspot.
- Jekerkwartier, a picturesque neighbourhood with the small river Jeker popping up between old houses and remnants of city walls.
- Wyck: the old quarter on the right bank of the Meuse river. Rechtstraat is the main shopping street in Wyck with a mix of specialty shops, art galleries and restaurants.
- Céramique, a modern neighbourhood on the site of the former Céramique potteries. Now a showcase of architectural highlights:
- Bonnefanten Museum by Aldo Rossi.
- Centre Céramique (a public library and exhibition space) by Jo Coenen.
- La Fortezza by Mario Botta.
- Siza Tower by Álvaro Siza Vieira.
- Also buildings by MBM, Cruz y Ortiz, Luigi Snozzi, Aurelio Galfetti, Herman Hertzberger, Charles Vandenhove, Bob Van Reeth and Wiel Arets.
- Parks: there are various parks in Maastricht. Of particular note are the following:
- Stadspark, the main public park on the west bank of the river.
- Monsigneur Nolenspark, an extension of Stadspark with remnants of the medieval city walls.
- Aldenhofpark, another extension of Stadspark, with a statue of d'Artagnan.
- Charles Eykpark, a modern park between the public library and Bonnefanten Museum on the east bank of the Meuse river
- Griendpark, a modern park on the east bank of the river with an inline-skating and skateboarding course.
- Sint-Pietersberg (Mount Saint Peter): modest hill just south of the city, peaking at 171 metres (561 ft) above sea level. Sights:
- Fort Sint-Pieter, an 18th-century fortress fully restored in 2008.
- Grotten Sint-Pietersberg (caves) - a sandstone (marl) quarry with a network of man-made tunnels. Guided tours are available.
- Kasteelruïne Lichtenberg, a farmstead containing a ruined medieval castle keep.
- D'n Observant, an artificial hilltop on Sint-Pietersberg.
- Sint Servaasbrug, the oldest bridge in the Netherlands
Museums in Maastricht
- Bonnefanten Museum is the foremost museum for old masters and contemporary fine art in the province of Limburg. The collection features medieval sculpture, early Italian painting, Southern Netherlandish painting, and contemporary art.
- Museum aan het Vrijthof is a local history museum in the 16th-century Spanish Government building, featuring period rooms with 17th- and 18th-century furnishings, Maastricht silver, porcelain, glassware, Maastricht pistols, and a collection of 17th- and 18th-century Dutch paintings and 20th-century paintings from local artists.
- The Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servatius includes religious artifacts from the 4th–20th centuries, notably those related to Saint Servatius. Highlights include the shrine, the key and the crosier of Saint Servatius, and the reliquary bust donated by Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma.
- The Treasury of the Basilica of Our Lady includes religious artifacts.
- Derlon Museumkelder is a preserved archeological site in the basement of a hotel with Roman and pre-Roman remains.
- Natural History Museum exhibits collections relating to the geology, paleontology and flora and fauna of Limburg. A highlight in the collection is the skeleton of a Mosasaur.
Events and festivals
- The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), the world's leading art and antiques fair (March).
- Preuvenemint, a large culinary event held on the Vrijthof square (August).
- Magic Maastricht, a winter-themed funfair and Christmas market held on Vrijthof square and other locations throughout the city (December/January).
- European Model United Nations (EuroMUN), an annual international conference in May and the second largest of its kind in Europe.
- Amstel Gold Race, an international cycling race which starts in Maastricht (usually April).
- Jumping Indoor Maastricht, an international concours hippique (showjumping).
- Maastrichts Mooiste, an annual running and walking event.
- Musica Sacra, a festival of religious (classical) music (September).
- Jazz Maastricht, a jazz festival formerly known as "Jeker Jazz" (autumn).
- Nederlandse Dansdagen, a modern dance festival (October).
- KunstTour, an annual art festival (May).
- Inkom, the traditional opening of the academic year and introduction for new students of Maastricht University (August).
- Carnival (Dutch: Carnaval, Limburgish and Maastrichtian: Vastelaovend) - a traditional 3-day festival in the southern part of the Netherlands (February/March). In Maastricht it is largely celebrated outdoors.
- 11de van de 11de, the official start of the carnival season (November 11).
- Tedx Maastricht, one of the top 3 TEDx-events in Europe (autumn)
Furthermore, the Maastricht Exposition and Congress Centre (MECC) hosts many events throughout the year.
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 coffee shops to residents of Maastricht. The ban did not affect scientific or medical usage. While the ban is now legal to enforce, its future is uncertain as the city council of Maastricht and other cities have voted against the planned "cannabis pass system".
Inhabitants by nationality
Inhabitants by country of birth
- Bernard Lievegoedschool (Anthroposophical education)
- Porta Mosana College
- United World College Maastricht
- Maastricht University (Dutch: Universiteit Maastricht) including:
- Maastricht School of Management
- Teikyo University (Maastricht campus closed in 2007)
- Zuyd University of Applied Sciences (Dutch: Hogeschool Zuyd, also has departments in Sittard and Heerlen) including:
- Academy for Dramatic Arts Maastricht (Dutch: Toneelacademie Maastricht)
- School of Fine Arts Maastricht (Dutch: Academie Beeldende Kunsten Maastricht)
- Maastricht Academy of Music (Dutch: Conservatorium Maastricht)
- Academy of architecture
- Teachers training college
- Faculty of International Business and Communication
- Maastricht Hotel Management School
- Jan Van Eyck Academie - post-academic art institute
- Berlitz Language School Maastricht
- Talenacademie Nederland
Private companies based in Maastricht
- ENCI – First Dutch Cement Industry
- Sappi – South African Pulp and Paper Industry
- Mosa – ceramic tiles
- BASF – previously Ten Horn, pigments
- Hewlett-Packard – previously Indigo, manufacturer of electronic data systems
- Vodafone – mobile phone company
- DHL – international express mail services
- Teleperformance – contact center services
- Mercedes-Benz – customer contact centre for Europe
- VGZ – health insurance, customer contact centre
- Esaote (former Pie Medical Equipment) – manufacturer of medical and veterinary diagnostic equipment
- Pie Medical Imaging – cardiovascular quantitative analysis software
- CardioTek – manufacturer of medical equipment for Cardiac electrophysiology procedures
- BioPartner Centre Maastricht – life sciences spin-off companies
- Administration of the Dutch province of Limburg
- Meuse-Rhine Euroregion
- Limburg Development Company LIOF
- Rijksarchief Limburg – archives of the province of Limburg
- Eurocontrol – European Organisation for the Safety and Operation of European Airspace
- European Journalism Centre
- École nationale d'administration (ENA)
- European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM)
- European centre for work and society (ECWS)
- Maastricht Centre for Transatlantic Studies (MCTS)
- Expert Centre for Sustainable Business and Development Cooperation (ECSAD)
- Council of European Municipalities and Regions (REGR)
- European Centre for Digital Communication (EC/DC)
- Maastricht Research School of Economics of TEchnology and ORganization (METEOR)
- Research Institute for Knowledge Systems (RIKS)
- Cicero Foundation (CF)
- In football, Maastricht is represented by MVV Maastricht (Dutch: Maatschappelijke Voetbal Vereniging Maastricht), currently playing in the Dutch first division of the national competition (which is actually the second league after the Eredivisie league). MVV's home is the Geusselt stadium near the A2 motorway.
- Maastricht is also home to the Maastricht Wildcats, an American Football League team and member of the AFBN (American Football Bond Nederland).
- Since 1998, Maastricht has been the traditional starting place of the annual Amstel Gold Race, the only Dutch cycling classic. For several years the race also finished in Maastricht, but since 2002 the finale has been on the Cauberg hill in nearby Valkenburg.
|Party||Seats||Compared to 2006|
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).
The aldermen and the mayor make up the executive branch of the municipal government. The current mayor of Maastricht is Onno Hoes, a Liberal (VVD), who was appointed after the popular previous mayor, Gerd Leers (CDA), decided to step down in January 2010 following the 'Bulgarian Villa' affair.
One controversial issue which has characterized Maastricht politics for years and which has also affected national and even international politics, is the city's approach to soft drug policy. 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 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.
Under one of the latest proposals, known as the 'Coffee Corner Plan' and proposed by then-mayor Leers, the city council unanimously voted in November 2008 to relocate most of its coffeeshops from the city centre to the edge of town, where the sale and use of cannabis can more easily be monitored. The purpose of this plan was to reduce the impact of drug tourism on the city centre, such as parking problems and the more serious issue of the illegal sale of hard drugs in the vicinity of the coffeeshops. The Coffee Corner Plan, however, has met with fierce opposition from neighbouring municipalities and from national government, where the Christian Democrats take a notably more conservative approach to soft drugs than their local party and mayor. Bordering towns and the federal government in Belgium have also opposed the city's policy, citing Maastricht's plan to move the coffeeshops towards the Belgian borders as a violation of European law. The plan has been the subject of various legal challenges and has not yet been carried out.
After former mayor Leers in 2010 resigned from office as a result of an affair concerning a holiday villa project in Byala, Bulgaria in which he was alleged to have been involved in shady deals to raise the value of villas he had ownership of, in 2013 current mayor Hoes, who probably is the only male mayor in the country, who officially is married to a male person, was the subject of political commotion, after facts had been disclosed about intimate affairs with several other male persons. 
The A2 motorway that runs through Maastricht is heavily congested and causes air pollution in the urban area. Construction of a two-level tunnel designed to solve these problems is scheduled to start in 2011 and last until 2016.
In spite of several large underground car parks, parking in the city centre forms a major problem during weekends and bank holidays due to the large numbers of visitors. Parking fees are high in order to incite visitors to use public transport or park and ride facilities away from the centre.
Maastricht is served by three rail operators, all of which call at the main Maastricht railway station near the centre and the smaller Maastricht Randwyck, located near the business and university district. The in 2013 opened Maastricht Noord is currently served by Veolia only. Services northwards are operated by Dutch Railways, including regular intercity trains to Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Den Bosch and Utrecht. The National Railway Company of Belgium runs south to Liège in Belgium. The line to Heerlen, Valkenburg and Kerkrade is operated by Veolia. The former railway to Aachen was closed down in the 1980s. The old westbound railway to Hasselt (Belgium) is currently being restored. This line will be used as a modern tramline, scheduled to open in 2017.
The Dutch and Flanders governments have reached an agreement in 2014 to build a new tram route called Spartacus. It is scheduled to take three years, from 2015 to 2018, and cost €283 million. When it is completed, Spartacus will carry passengers from Maastricht city centre to Hasselt city centre, the capital of Flanders’ Limburg province, in 30 minutes. It will be operated by the transport company De Lijn, with 3 scheduled stops in Maastricht and further 10 in Flanders. 
Regular bus lines connect the city centre, outer areas, business districts and railway stations. The regional Veolia bus network extends to most parts of South Limburg as well as to Hasselt, Tongeren and Liège in Belgium, and Aachen in Germany.
Maastricht is served by nearby Maastricht Aachen Airport - locally known as Beek - with scheduled flights to Alicante, Berlin, Faro, Girona, Málaga, Pisa, Reus, Trapani and charters to popular holiday destinations during the summer season. The airport is located about 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of Maastricht's centre.
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 therefore not represent actual overland distances.
- Liège: 25.5 km (15.8 mi) south
- Aachen: 31.0 km (19.3 mi) east
- Düsseldorf: 86.2 km (53.6 mi) north-east
- Cologne: 89.6 km (55.7 mi) east
- Brussels: 95.1 km (59.1 mi) west
- Antwerp: 97.8 km (60.8 mi) north-west
- Luxembourg City: 141.4 km (87.9 mi) south
- Utrecht: 142.4 km (88.5 mi) north-west
- Rotterdam: 144.5 km (89.8 mi) north-west
- Amsterdam: 175.1 km (108.8 mi) north-west
- Lille: 186.3 km (115.8 mi) west
- Frankfurt am Main: 228.8 km (142.2 mi) south-east
- Leeuwarden: 261.6 km (162.6 mi) north
- Paris: 326.6 km (202.9 mi) south-west
Twin towns — Sister cities
Maastricht is twinned with:
Well-known natives of Maastricht
- See also People from Maastricht
- Henri Arends (1921–1993) - conductor
- Doris Baaten (1956) - voice actress
- Mieke de Boer (1980) - female darts player
- Joseph Bruyère (1948) - Belgian cyclist
- Peter Debye (1884–1966) - Nobel prize winning chemist
- Tom Dumoulin (1990) - cyclist
- Hendrick Fromantiou (1633/4 – after 1693) - still life painter
- Joop Haex (1911-2002) - politician
- Hubert Hermans (1937) - psychologist and creator of Dialogical Self Theory
- Pieter van den Hoogenband (1978) - swimmer and a triple Olympic champion
- Pierre Kemp (1886–1967) - poet
- Sjeng Kerbusch (1947–1991) - behavior geneticist
- Matthias Kessels (1784–1836) - sculptor
- Eric van der Luer (1965) - footballer, football manager
- Jan Pieter Minckeleers (1748–1824) - scientist and inventor of coal gas lighting
- Bram Moszkowicz (1960) - ex-barrister
- Benny Neyman (1951–2008) - singer of popular songs
- Tom Nijssen (1964) - tennis player
- Jacques Ogg (1948) - harpsichordist
- Jan Peumans (1951) - Belgian politician
- Guido Pieters (1948) - film director
- Prince Rajcomar (1985) - football player
- André Rieu (1949) - violinist, conductor and composer
- Fred Rompelberg (1945) - cyclist, current holder of the World Speed Record Cycling
- Henri Sarolea (1844–1900) - railway entrepreneur and contractor
- Frans Timmermans (1961) - politician
- Johann Friedrich August Tischbein (1750–1812) - portrait painter
- Maxime Verhagen (1956) - politician
- Hubert Vos (1855–1935) - painter
- Ad Wijnands (1959) - cyclist, Tour de France stage winner
- Henri Winkelman (1876–1952) - general
- Danny Wintjens (1983) - football goalkeeper
- Boudewijn Zenden (1976) - football player
- Ziesjoem - maastricht music group
- Kim Zwarts (1955) - photographer
Originating from elsewhere
- Jo Bonfrere (1946) - football
- Willy Brokamp (1946) star football player of MVV Maastricht in the early seventies, which were "the golden years" for this club. Also former caterer in several Maastricht establishments.
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 Alfons Olterdissen (1865–1923) as finishing stanza of the Maastrichtian opera "Trijn de Begijn" of 1910.
|Maastrichtian municipal anthem (Mestreechs Volksleed) (adopted 2002, written 1910)|
- "Dhr. Onno Hoes" [Mr. Onno Hoes] (in Dutch). Gemeente Maastricht. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- "Postcodetool for 6211DW". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- "Stadsgewesten en stedelijke agglomeraties Nederland 2011". Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. 2011. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
- "Zicht op Maastricht". zichtopmaastricht.nl. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- "VVV Maastricht". Vvv-maastricht.eu. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- Sponsored by. "The Economist ''Charlemagne: Return to Maastricht'' Oct 8th 2011". Economist.com. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- BBC News Is Brighton the next Maastricht March 29th 2012
- MAETN (1999). "diktyo". classic-web.archive.org. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- Gussenhoven, C. & Aarts, F. (1999). "The dialect of Maastricht". University of Nijmegen, Centre for Language Studies. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
- Kessels-van der Heijde, Maria (2002). Maastricht, Maestricht, Mestreech. Hilversum, Netherlands: Uitgeverij Verloren. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
- Gnesotto, N. (1992). European union after Minsk and Maastricht. International Affairs. 68(2), 223-232.
- MaastrichtVan onze verslaggever. "Coffee Corner: Dagblad de Limburger". Limburger.nl. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "KNMI 1947: de zomer van de 20e eeuw". Knmi.nl. 2001-08-22. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- "Klimaattabel Maastricht, langjarige gemiddelden, tijdvak 1981–2010" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- "Klimaattabel Maastricht, langjarige extremen, tijdvak 1971–2000" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- "Entre Deux". Entredeux.nl. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "Top shelves". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "Marc Michel Josemans v. Burgemeester van Maastricht, case C‑137/09". Court of Justice of the European Union. December 16, 2010.
- "Eindhoven joins opposition to cannabis pass system". Dutchnews.nl. February 9, 2011.
- Jansen, J.C.G.M. (1986). "Maastricht tussen 1813 en 1850" (PDF). BMCN 101 (4): 529–550. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per jaar". Retrieved 17 December.
- Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand". Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. "Bevolking; geslacht, leeftijd, nationaliteit en regio, 1 januari". Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. "Bevolking op 1 januari; leeftijd, geboorteland en regio". Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- Cannabis Cafes Get Nudge to Fringes of a Dutch City, The New York Times, 20 August 2006.
- Article in a Dutch paper about the political impact of mayor Onno Hoes' personal demeanour.
- MaastrichtVan onze verslaggever. "Tramlijn: Dagblad de Limburger". Limburger.nl. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- Tramverbinding tussen Nederland en België (Dutch)
- Derek Blyth. "Hasselt to Maastricht high-speed tram link by 2018". flanderstoday.eu. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
- Municipality of Maastricht (2008). "Municipality of Maastricht: Maastrichts Volkslied". N.A. Maastricht. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
|Find more about Maastricht at Wikipedia's sister projects|
|Media from Commons|
|Travel guide from Wikivoyage|
- Official website
- Maastricht in Roman times
- Webpage about Maastricht fortifications
- Webpage about the 1673 siege
|Valkenburg aan de Geul|
|Riemst (BE-VLI)||Visé (BE-WLG)||Eijsden-Margraten|