What You Need To Know
Maastricht is a town and a municipality in the southeast of the Netherlands. It is the capital city of the province of Limburg. Maastricht is located on both sides of the Meuse river (Dutch: Maas), at the point where the Jeker River (French: Geer) joins it. Maastricht developed from a Roman settlement to a Medieval religious centre, a garrison town and an early industrial city. Today, Maastricht is well-regarded as an affluent cultural center. Maastricht has 1677 national heritage sites (Rijksmonumenten), which is the second highest number in a Dutch town, after Amsterdam. It has become known, by way of theMaastricht Treaty, as the birthplace of the European Union, European citizenship, and the single European currency, the euro. The town is popular with tourists for shopping and recreation, and has a large growing international student population. Maastricht is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network and is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, which includes nearby cities Aachen, Eupen, Hasselt, Liège and Tongeren.
Area: 60.06 km²
Population: About 122,538
The Maastricht criteria (also known as the convergence criteria) are the criteria for European Union member states to enter the third stage of European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and adopt the euro as their currency. The four criteria are defined in article 121 of the treaty establishing the European Community.
Maastricht is a city of linguistic diversity, partly as a result of its location at the crossroads of multiple language areas and its international student population.
- Dutch is the national language and the language of elementary and secondary education (excluding international institutions) as well as administration. Dutch in Maastricht is often spoken with a distinctive Limburgish accent, which should not be confused with the Limburgish language.
- Limburgish (or Limburgian) is the overlapping term of the tonal dialects spoken in the Dutch and Belgian provinces of Limburg. The Maastrichtian dialect (Mestreechs) is only one of many variants of Limburgish. It is characterised by stretched vowels and some French influence on its vocabulary. In recent years the Maastricht dialect has been in decline (see dialect levelling) and a language switch to Standard Dutch has been noted.
- French used to be the language of education in Maastricht. In the 18th century the language occupied a powerful position as judicial and cultural language, and it was used throughout the following century by the upper classes. Between 1851 and 1892 a Francophone newspaper (Le Courrier de la Meuse) was published in Maastricht. The language is often part of secondary school curricula. Many proper names and some street names are French and the language has left many traces in the local dialect.
- German, like French, is often part of secondary school curricula. Due to Maastricht’s geographic proximity to Germany and the great number of German students in the city, German is widely spoken.
- English has become an important language in education. At Maastricht University and Hogeschool Zuyd it is the language of instruction for many courses. Many foreign students and expatriates use English as a lingua franca. English is also a mandatory subject in Dutch elementary and secondary schools.
Maastricht is served by the A2 and A79 motorways. The city can be reached from Brussels and Cologne in approximately one hour and from Amsterdam in about two and a half hours. The A2 motorway that runs through Maastricht is heavily congested and causes air pollution in the urban area. Construction of a two-level tunnel designed to solve these problems started in 2011 and is scheduled to last until 2016. In spite of several large underground car parks, parking in the city centre forms a major problem during weekends and bank holidays due to the large numbers of visitors. Parking fees are high in order to incite visitors to use public transport or park and ride facilities away from the centre.
Maastricht is served by three rail operators, all of which call at the main Maastricht railway station near the centre and the smallerMaastricht Randwyck, located near the business and university district. Maastricht Noord, which opened in 2013, is only served by Veolia. Services northwards are operated by Dutch Railways, including regular intercity trains to Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Den Bosch and Utrecht. The National Railway Company of Belgium runs south to Liège in Belgium. The line to Heerlen, Valkenburg and Kerkrade is operated byVeolia. The former railway to Aachen was closed down in the 1980s. The old westbound railway to Hasselt (Belgium) is being restored. This line will be used as a modern tramline, scheduled to open in 2017.
The Dutch and Flanders governments have reached an agreement in 2014 to build a new tram route called Spartacus. It is scheduled to take three years, from 2015 to 2018, and cost €283 million. When it is completed, Spartacus will carry passengers from Maastricht city centre to Hasselt city centre, the capital of Flanders’ Limburg province, in 30 minutes. It will be operated by the transport company De Lijn, with 3 scheduled stops in Maastricht and further 10 in Flanders.
Regular bus lines connect the city centre, outer areas, business districts and railway stations. The regional Veolia bus network extends to most parts of South Limburg as well as to Hasselt, Tongeren, Maasmechelen and Liège in Belgium, and Aachen in Germany.
Maastricht is served by the nearby Maastricht Aachen Airport (IATA: MST, ICAO: EHBK) – located in nearby Beek and informally referred to by that name – with regular scheduled flights to Alicante (on Ryanair), Katowice and Budapest (on Wizz Air), and seasonal and charter flights to other destinations. The airport is located about 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of Maastricht’s centre.
Maastricht has a river port (Beatrixhaven) and is connected by water with Belgium and the rest of the Netherlands through the riverMeuse, the Juliana Canal, the Albert Canal and the Zuid-Willemsvaart. Although there are no regular boat connections to other cities, various organized boat trips for tourists connect Maastricht with Belgium cities such as Liège.
Maastricht features the same climate as most of the Netherlands (Cfb, Oceanic climate), however, due to its more inland location in between hills, summers tend to be warmer (especially in the Meuse valley, which lies 70 metres lower than the meteorological station) and winters a bit colder, although the difference is only remarkable at a few days a year. The second highest temperature in the Netherlands, and the highest temperature of a still existing station was recorded on June 27, 1947 at 38.4 °C (101.1 °F).