Discover Benelux, Issue 24, December 2015

Page 22

Discover Benelux | Introduction | Magical Maastricht

ly enter the fancy Stokstraat district. The former decayed working-class neighbourhood is now notable for its exclusive shopping boutiques such as Kiki Niesten and Shoebaloo. Next to that, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-plein, the neighbourhood’s square, is a wonderful place to have lunch at any time of the year. Or you can light a candle for your loved ones in the Basilica of Our Lady. If you decide to go straight ahead after the bridge, you will end up seeing the Bijenkorf, the Netherland’s most famous upmarket department store. If you walk a little bit further you will end up on the Grote Straat, where you will see other Dutch high-street chains such as V&D, HEMA and C&A, selling clothes, gifts, food, electronics and more. Again, the shopping possibilities are limitless. From here, the high street in town, you can enter one of the many side streets that lead you to the central market of Maastricht. But it is more fun to walk all the way to the end of the Grote Straat, turn right and discover the gothic Dominican Church; a former house of God that is now the house of books. The many shelves built on top of each other, give you an overview of their seemingly endless collection and the height of the church, an impressive sight indeed. In the back there is a café where you can read your newly bought books or one of the magazines from their broad collection.

22 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Next to the Dominican Church, the modern Mosae Forum is situated, a shopping mall selling familiar international brands such as Hollister, ZARA and H&M. From that point there are two ways to go, either go east and find yourself at the Grote Markt with stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables and fabrics. Or head west, where you will find the city’s characteristic Vrijthof, the square where the famous Maastricht violin player André Rieu performs his annual summer concerts and where, during December, a whole Christmas village comes to life. The Vrijthof is the place where the city comes together, with the Museum aan het Vrijthof showcasing the history of Maastricht, a Christmas market and winter fair and the beautiful Basilica of Saint Servatius looking over the square (see more on page 24). The Vrijthof is the heart of the city and it is filled with activities, restaurants and amusement. This, and indeed

the whole of Maastricht, is the perfect place to spend the most wonderful time of the year. BELOW: Past and present collide at the Kruisheren Hotel. Its modern interior stands in a harmonious contrast with the 15th century church and cloister building.