Maastricht: the beautiful and first town built in Holland
Every European city, regardless of its size, and that is home to a large and recognized university, has a different pace of life and a lively dynamic in its surroundings that keeps it attractive, even though the majority of the inhabitants are elderly. Maastricht is like this. Located in the extreme southeast of Holland, between Belgium and Germany, it was founded by the Romans and is the oldest city in the country.
The first time I went there I barely knew how to pronounce its name and I didn’t know much what to expect, other than the fact that it was medieval, and this alone attracted me. And it was just by chance, on a train route traveling to the south of the country and escaping from Brazil’s Carnival that we decided to sleep there for a few days. Long ago an acquaintance had mentioned that she had lived there when young, before marrying a Dutchman. I do not know why, but I kept this little town in my mind. And there we went. On our way out of Amsterdam, we were taken by surprise by a carnival rhythm in the small towns we passed by. Arriving in Maastricht, we went straight to the Hotel des Charms (Such a right choice! A beautiful hotel!), we left our things and went downtown on foot – it is so close that it is almost like going to the corner. The entire population was wearing costumes. It was like arriving at a Carnival ball where everyone is wearing the most creative and unique costumes and only my husband and I were wearing usual clothes: very heavy coats due to Holland’s harsh winter.
If we think Brazil’s Carnival is creative, you’ve got to see Maastricht’s: a family dressed like a Christmas tree, you can imagine that, can’t you? Everything was picturesque: from the narrow cobblestone streets to the main square with “still life” trees, to the path that splits the city in half by the river Meuse. Everything there is beautiful, charming, preserved. A night stroll is an invitation to the beauty of solitude. You see a young spirit permeating the rhythm of the city, mainly due to the University of Maastricht, Holland's most international college and a benchmark in courses such as Business and Economics, Liberal Arts & Sciences, Psychology and Neuroscience.
No wonder one can see gyms packed with youngsters from various parts of the country and the world, hip all-you-can eat Japanese restaurants, couples and friends walking or cycling around the River Maas, or gathering at the central square called Vrijthof, where the famous Sint Servaas Basilica (considered the existing oldest church in Holland) and the Sint-Janskerk church (with its unmistakable beautiful red tower). The city center is also a great place to shop: national or international designer boutiques, all very tasteful, what represent the natural elegance of Maastricht’s inhabitant.