It’s hard to imagine as you walk through the quaint streets of Maastricht, but about 70 million years ago, you’d have been knee-deep in water. A shallow, subtropical Cretaceous sea covered the whole of south Limburg.
It teemed with flora and fauna such as sea grasses, corals, fish, sharks, and mosasaurs. The skeletons of these animals formed a thick layer of limestone over millions of years. When the sea later dried out, these yellow limestone layers of Cretaceous bedrock were left exposed. They are still clearly visible in the ENCI quarry and caves of the St Pietersberg nature reserve.
Today, the ENCI quarry is an industrial heritage and natural beauty site in one. In 1926, the Dutch cement company began excavating limestone from St Pietersberg hill to make cement. The marl mines were closed in 2019. What remains is a unique canyon landscape where you can walk among the grazing sheep and goats. The trail is open each day from 1 April to 1 September between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. From 1 September to 1 April, it is open each day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.View it here
Here’s a golden tip for your kids: the 'Schatgraven’ (digging for treasure) exhibition in Maastricht’s Natuurhistorisch Museum (natural history museum). Here, you will discover, learn, and focus on digging up and handling the most amazing archaeological discoveries! This will help you discover what can be found in the ground and what information this gives about the times when dinosaurs, mammoths, and woolly rhinos. Dig for archaeological finds in the large sandbox and touch a real mammoth bone!Read more