Maastricht is probably the least "Dutch city" in the Netherlands with its winding cobblestone streets, lively market squares and burgundy lifestyle. This city in the southernmost tip of the country is known for its rich history and vibrant culture, which offers a delightful fusion of old-world charm and contemporary flair. In this blog post I invite you to join me on a gastronomic and visual journey through Maastricht:
Sights in Maastricht
As Delft is known for its Delfst Blue pottery, Maastricht is known for its Boerenbont tableware from Petrus Regout, later known as Koninklijke (royal) Sphinx. From 1834 until 2009 an entire neighbourhood was devoted to the production of ceramic tableware, tiles and bathroom fixtures such as colourful sinks and toilet bowls. The area where the factory used to be is now called the Sphinxkwartier. Several former factory halls are still standing there today, which reminds us of the sheer size of the company and the thousands of people who have worked here. We started our day in Maastricht with a guided tour through the Sphinxkwartier by a great knowledgeable guide from Bezoek Maastricht.
Sphinx has made countless designs from floral motifs to Asian-inspired pottery, but the Boerenbont is worldwide the most famous one. Opposite the entrance to the Sphinxkwartier you will find this piece of street art of the Boerenbont design at Sint Teunisstraat.
30.000 printed tiles in a 120 meters long corridor tell the fascinating story of Sphinx over the 175 years of their existence. In the Sphinxpassage you will learn about its founders and the very first ceramics, to the heyday of this important enterprise for the region. The story is supported by the original ceramic objects from that time.
For those who can still remember the word 'sanitair' (bathroom fixtures), which was standing in large letters on top of the main building for decades, I have a fun fact. Fortunately the letters have been preserved and are now shining bright in the lobby of the next door hotel and coworking space The Social Hub.
For the ones who find regular museums boring, Marres, Huis voor Hedendaagse Cultuur (house for contemporary culture) could be right up your alley. Because Marres' program focuses on experience and emphasizes on the working of the senses and the language of the body. Throughout the year there are several changing exhibitions, so you can visit it regularly and experience something new every time. Together with next door Mediterranean restaurant Marres Kitchen (more about that later) and the beautiful city garden, this is the ideal place to spend a few hours in the heart of Maastricht.
We have visited the exhibition called Táctica Sintáctica by Argentinian artist Diego Bianchi.
The "tagline" of the exhibition is 'Touching with your eyes, seeing with your hands', and that sums it up nicely. You are invited to be part of the collection and to discover it in a completely different way than you are normally used to...
This exhibition has now ended, so keep an eye on Marres' agenda
to see their current and expected exhibitions.
Coffee in Maastricht
KOFFIE bij Joost & Maartje is for sure my favourite coffee bar in Maastricht. So every time I visit the city I try to squeeze in a short break here. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the interior, because most of the time it's quite busy here and I want to respect the privacy of the other guests. It's a nice place for breakfast or lunch, and the excellent spot for just a cup of coffee with some of their delicious sweets on the side.
Maastricht's most famous (and not only in the city, but also far beyond) coffee brand is by far Blanche Dael. Since 1878 this family owned business is known for its high quality coffees, teas and roasted peanuts. For the latter make sure to check out their charming shop at Wolfstraat 28 to see how the peanuts are roasted on the spot, which is not only a pleasure for the eye, but also for the nose...
As of 2020 the coffee roastery is situated in the above mentioned Sphinxkwartier in a former brick factory dating from 1875. In the adjoining Koffiecafé, the emphasis is mainly on filter coffee (which is always a plus for me!). And when you are in Limburg you should try a piece of Limburgse vlaai (Limburgian pie with many different toppings) like for example this creamy and sweet rijstevlaai (rice pie).
Tip: don't forget to take a look at the beautiful shop upstairs.
Lunch in Maastricht
About 10 years ago I have lived a couple of years in Maastricht, and back then Marres Kitchen was one of my favourite restaurants. So it's great to see it is still going strong, and maybe even better than ever. Come here to enjoy a wonderful variety of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes with lots of vegetarian options.
We ordered Mutabal, Baba Ganoush, Hummus and Muhamarah with flat bread and they were all simply delicious. Besides the great food, the restaurant has a very pleasant atmosphere, and the attentive and friendly staff complete the superb experience.
A few weeks later I was there again, and luckily the weather was much warmer so we could enjoy a delicious lunch in their beautiful garden.
Dinner in Maastricht
Does a panoramic view during lunch or dinner sound good? Then head to Bold Rooftop Bar on the 8th floor of the Sphinx Building to enjoy Maastricht from above. It is also a well known place for drinks and bites from noon until midnight. There are several vegetarian options on the menu, and those who would like to eat vegan can ask the staff about the vegan options for that day.
How to get to Maastricht
A train will take you to Maastricht within:
- 0,5 hour from Liège
- 1 hour from Eindhoven or Aachen
- 2 hours from Utrecht or Köln
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I used the Limburg edition of the Time to Momo guidebooks to plan this trip: