Monday, June 8, 2009


Here is a look at Maastricht's City Hall Area at 1800 (6PM) on a Friday. The day before it was double the amount of people who were strolling around the beautiful center of Maastricht. There are tons of clothing shops, fast food places, cafes, bars, restaurants, convenient stores, and liquor stores.
Maastricht is a city and a municipality in the Dutch province of Limburg, of which it is the capital. The city is situated on both sides of the Meuse river (Dutch: Maas) in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, near the Belgian and German borders. The city is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, a Euregio whose other main cities include Aachen, Germany and Hasselt and Liège in respectively Dutch-speaking and French-speaking Belgium.
Nowadays, Maastricht is widely known as a centre of tradition, history and culture, and popular with tourists for shopping and recreation. It is the location for various educational, with some partial to fully anglophone, establishments including the Maastricht University (including the University College Maastricht), the Maastricht School of Management, parts of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences (including the Maastricht Conservatory, Academy of Dramatic Arts Maastricht and Hotelschool Maastricht) and starting August 2009 a United World College. Consequently the city has a large international student population.
Its name is derived from Latin Trajectum ad Mosam or Mosae Trajectum, meaning "Mosa-crossing", and refers to the bridge over the Meuse river built by the Romans during the reign of Augustus Caesar.
There is some discussion as to whether Maastricht is the oldest city of the Netherlands: By some Nijmegen is considered to be the oldest mainly because it was the first settlement in the Netherlands to receive Roman city rights. Maastricht never received Roman city rights but as a settlement it may be considerably older.
The Maastricht claim is furthermore based on the city's unbroken chain of 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.
Paleolithic remains have been found to the west of Maastricht, between 8,000 and 25,000 years old. Celts lived here at least 500 years before the Romans came, at a spot where the river Meuse was shallow and therefore easy to cross. The Romans later built a bridge and a large road to connect the capitals of the Nervians and Tungri, Bavay and Tongeren, with the capital of the Ubians, Cologne.
Saint Servatius was the first bishop of the Netherlands. His tomb, in the crypt at the Basilica of Saint Servatius, is a favoured place of pilgrimage: Pope John Paul II visited it in 1985. The golden gilt shrine containing some of the saint's relics is carried around the town every seven years. The city remained an early Christian bishopric until it lost this position to nearby Liège in the 8th century.
In the early Middle Ages Maastricht was part of the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. It later developed into a city of dual authority, a condominium, with both the Prince-Bishopric of Liège and the Duchy of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. It received city rights in 1204.
The role of the Dukes was occupied by the Dutch States General from 1632 onwards when the city was taken from the Spanish by Frederik Hendrik. The important strategic location of Maastricht in the Dutch Republic resulted in an impressive array of fortifications around the city.
The most famous Siege of Maastricht occurred here during the month of June, 1673 as part of the Franco-Dutch War, because French battle supply lines were being threatened. During this siege, one of history's most famous military engineers, Vauban, synthesized the methods of attacking strong places, in order to break down the fortifications surrounding Maastricht. His introduction of a systematic approach by parallels resulted in a rapid breaching of the city's fortifications. (This technique, in principle, has remained until the 20th century the standard method of attacking a fortress.)
After the breaching of the fortifications occurred, Louis XIV's troops started to surround the city of Maastricht. Under the leadership of Captain-Lieutenant Charles de Batz de Castelmore, also known as Comte d'Artagnan, the historical basis for Alexandre Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances, the First Company of Mousquetaires du Roi prepared to storm a rampart located in front of one of the city's gates. D'Artagnan was killed by a musket shot on 25 June 1673 during a night attack on the Tongerse Gate (this event was portrayed in Dumas' novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne).
Maastricht surrendered to French troops on 30 June. The French troops occupied the Dutch city from 1673 to 1678. It was subsequently restored to Dutch rule. The French again took the city in 1748 as part of the War of Austrian Succession, and again the city was restored to the Dutch that same year. The French would return once more in 1794, when they annexed the city to what would become the French Empire. Maastricht became the capital of the French département of Meuse-Inférieure.
After the Napoleonic era, Maastricht became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 and the capital of the newly formed Province of Limburg. When the southern provinces sought independence from the North to form Belgium in 1830, the garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king, though the surrounding countryside came under Belgian control. Arbitration by the Great Powers in 1831 awarded the city and the eastern part of Limburg, despite being geographically and culturally closer to Belgium, to the Netherlands and the rest to Belgium. The North and the South did not initially agree to this and it would not be until the 1839 Treaty of London that this arrangement became permanent.
Because of the resulting eccentric location Maastricht often remained more focused on Belgium and Germany than on the rest of the Netherlands. Due to its proximity to the Walloon industrial basin, Maastricht industrialised earlier than most of the Netherlands. It thus retained a distinct non-Dutch character until the First World War forced the city to look northwards.
The city did not escape World War II: it was quickly taken by the Germans on May 10, 1940 during the Battle of Maastricht, but on September 14, 1944, Maastricht was the first Dutch city to be liberated by allied forces.
The latter half of the century saw a decline of the traditional industries and a shift to more services-oriented economy. Maastricht University was founded in 1976. In 1992, the Maastricht treaty was negotiated and signed here, leading to the creation of the European Union and the Euro.[2]
In recent years, several international conferences were held in Maastricht, like the OSCE-summit in 2003, and several other gatherings during the Dutch chairmanship of the European Union in 2004.

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