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Discovering pre-industrial Maastricht

Discovering pre-industrial Maastricht

Photographer:Fotograaf: Su Min Pack

It’s a drizzling Saturday morning on the 10th of November,  when Meet Maastricht offers the L’Art Pour Elkaar// Post-industrial Maastricht Free Tour. The “miezerige” weather adds to the historical atmosphere of the city. About 10 participants from all over the globe, from  North Holland and Italy to Kyrgyzstan and Peru, are buzzing with genuine excitement to further explore Maastricht, which they now all call home.

Lucy Willems, the guide, welcomes the participants and introduces herself as “the one who walks around the city and talks about some uniquely Maastricht stories.” She is a historian and  the only native Maastricht-ian among the group.

Willems explains that the Maastricht was a bustling city even before the factories started to invade the Europe. The local industries included seed kneading, beer brewing, leather and wool production and paper production, just to name a few. All these industries linked closely to the geographical niche of Maastricht: the abundant water. “The inhabitants of Maastricht used hydropower, generated by water mill, to drive their economy,” Willems says as we stop  to appreciate the remnant of one of the water mills near the Helpoort.

During the tour, the intelligent city development of the modern Maastricht is apparent. The harmony among the 13th century black-stone buildings, the 16th century red-brick buildings and the modern white-concrete buildings is deeply appreciated by the participants. And more so when Willems proudly mentions that the modern buildings were integrated into the old city, “keeping the historical heritage in Maastricht alive.” This was done  by keeping the modern buildings to the height of the surrounding older buildings and keeping them simple. This prevented the modern buildings from standing out and overwhelming the city.

After the tour, a participant commented that this tour provided her an opportunity to “drift away from her daily chores and appreciate the beautiful city.” Upon the question why she had chosen to sign up for this, she replied, “It would be so sad if I would leave the city without knowing it after completing my study at Maastricht University. It helped me to love this city more.”

Su Min Pack

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