‘For four months a year during the winter, I stay in our wonderful bungalow in Gran Canaria. But when it’s time to go home (Maastricht) and I’m sitting on the plane, I always look forward to exploring new places in my city.’ Jola is an Official Maastricht Guide at Explore Maastricht and will take you on a virtual tour of Maastricht’s Spanish spots. Her number-one tip if you want to explore beyond the city centre? ‘Grab a bike and cycle around the outskirts. The surroundings are green and hilly, you can visit the caves (“cuevas”), and if it’s sunny enough, you can venture out of Maastricht and into Belgium.’
Maastricht has a lot of Spanish influences, but you wouldn’t think so at first sight. Our Official Maastricht Guide Jola stays in Spain for several months of the year and sees striking similarities with Maastricht, some of which you can explore as soon as you get off the train. The old station, which first opened in 1914, leads you via the central hall to the ‘Ramblas van Wyck’ into the city. The buildings on both sides are a sight to behold, but look above the shop windows! This famous style, called ‘Jugendstil’, can also be found in Triana, an old district of Las Palmas. This blog will take you on a Spanish journey through Maastricht!
Turn left before you cross Sint Servaasbrug bridge. The shimmering Meuse will be on your right, next to Cörversplein. Walk past ‘Hotel Maastricht’ to discover an architectural gem of Maastricht: Céramique. If you walk across the central Plein 1992 square, you’ll see many buildings constructed after the demolition of the old Société Céramique, Maastricht’s ceramics factory. This project was developed by several architects, including the famous architectural firm Cruz y Ortiz from Seville. Walking past Bonnefantenmuseum, you’ll see the roundabout with a remarkable 27-star monument symbolizing the 27 countries of the EU, created by a Spanish artist who opened it in 1991 for the Euro summit in Maastricht.
This history lesson about the Spanish influences in Maastricht may have got your tummy rumbling, so here we are to provide some culinary inspiration! Maastricht’s urban culture has been enriched by the arrival of international students and expats in the city, and its culinary scene is no exception. Whether Spanish ‘tunas’, tapas bars, restaurants serving Spanish food, and much more, our markets can be compared to Spanish ‘mercados’ and our waffles to Spanish ‘galetas’. Visit these Spanish places to enjoy the most delicious Spanish regional dishes in Maastricht, from the famous tapas to special Spanish restaurants. Which one will you pick?
Spanish culinary spots in Maastricht
Foto's: La Bodega | Ontwerpstudio Maastricht
It’s time to leave this more modern part of Maastricht and immerse yourself in Maastricht’s earlier history. If you look at the bridge to the right, you’ll see the oldest bridge in the Netherlands, Sint Servaasbrug, built in the 13th century. At the time when the bridge had no official name, bloody battles were fought here in 1576 and 1579 during the Spanish sieges of Maastricht. In 1576, women from Wyck were used as human shields to discourage the Maastricht rebels from firing while the government’s troops crossed the bridge. It’s quite a brutal piece of history... something you probably can’t imagine as you amble along Maastricht’s romantic streets.
Admire the city at your pace and walk to Vrijthof square. In the crypt of St Servatius’ Basilica (Sint Servaasbasiliek), you can still see the second bust of Servatius. ‘But what happened to the first bust?’ we hear you ask. The first was destroyed by the Spanish, and then Parma donated funds to make a second bust. Featuring Parma’s coat of arms on the back, this is another of Maastricht’s gem with Spanish roots.
Vrijthof is where you will find the ‘Spaans Gouvernement’ (‘Spanish government building’). But nowadays, you can admire the most beautiful photography, as the building is home to the Fotomuseum aan het Vrijthof! The former Spaans Gouvernement is where the Duke of Parma is said to have signed the outlawing of William of Orange. Between 1519 and 1550, Charles V and Philip II (his son) stayed at the Spaans Gouvernement several times. The ‘Blijde Inkomst’ (Joyous Entry) of the new ruler, Charles V – later King of Spain – and later of his son Philip II took place on Vrijthof square.
You should also have a look inside the building: just after the millennium, the 18th-century museum was transformed into a contemporary space with many of the original features. For instance, the triumphal marlstone arch in the front entrance (from Vrijthof) still features the head of Charles V on the left, his wife on the right, and the time-worn head of Philip II in the middle.
And last, but not least: la música!
Live music: If you walk in a Spanish city, you’ll come across a lot of live music and buskers. It really influences the atmosphere and is so characteristic of that part of the world. Maastricht usually has a lot of live music to enjoy on the streets and in cafés during the summer. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus measures, this won’t be possible this year. Tip: Keep an eye on the events calendar for other amazing events!
Written by Maastricht Marketing & Jola Dufornee