Maastricht reinvented itself in the 19th century and earned its name as the oldest industrial city in the Netherlands. Thousands of people worked in large ceramics and glass-blowing factories founded by Petrus Regout. While other cities have lost the traces of their early industrialization, Maastricht has fortunately managed to preserve its unpolished, industrial side. The contrast between the medieval centre and the modern, industrial district of Sphinxkwartier now creates an exciting dynamic.
By repurposing factory buildings, the Sphinxkwartier is now being transformed into a bustling residential and cultural district. The Eiffel building, known simply as ‘De Eiffel’, is the most prominent industrial monument in the area. It was still in operation as the Koninklijke Sphinx’s ceramics factory until 2006. Since 2017, its main occupant has been The Student Hotel. The hotel provides both long-stay student accommodation and overnight accommodation for other guests. If you want to sip on a delicious cocktail while enjoying a panorama of the city, head to Bold: the Hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar.
Across the street, you’ll find ‘De Timmerfabriek’, a group of listed factory buildings. After Sphinx vacated the premises, these factory buildings were transformed into a dynamic cultural venue. The Muziekgieterij concert venue is now housed in a warehouse, and a former power station has been converted into the Lumière art cinema. The power station, complete with steam engines and power generators, is now a bar and restaurant blessed with a beautiful view over ‘t Bassin, the historic river harbour.Discover the district
This entertainment and dining hub used to be a place of harsh labour carried out under appalling conditions – sometimes even by children. The name of the factory owner, Petrus Regout, was long held in contempt. In 1959, using the factory’s 125th anniversary as an opportunity to redeem Regout’s reputation, Sphinx decided to erect a statue of Regout in the front of the De Eiffel factory building.
Nowadays, you can look back on Sphinx’s company history along an immense, 120-metre-long tile exhibition – the ‘Sphinxpassage’ – in the Eiffel building. The exhibition’s thirty thousand tiles vividly recount tales of child labour and long, dangerous night shifts. But they also tell some positive stories, such as those about avant-garde tableware and ‘Boerenbont’ decorative pottery.