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Maastricht

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Dutch municipality 3

Maastricht (Limburgish: Mestreech; French: Maestricht; local dialect: Mestreech) is a municipality, and capital of the province of Limburg. The city is situated on both sides of the Meuse river (Maas in Dutch) in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands between Belgium and Germany. The name of city is derived from its Latin name Trajectum Ad Mosam (Meuse-crossing), referring to the bridge built by the Romans under the reign of Augustus Caesar.

For years, the city has been in a debate with Nijmegen over being the oldest city of the Netherlands. Nijmegen was the first Dutch city with Roman city rights. Maastricht was the first with Medieval city rights, a system which evolved to the current system.

Institutions located in Maastricht include the Universiteit Maastricht (Maastricht University), the Administration of the Dutch province of Limburg and the Bonnefanten Museum of art. Other large employers include Vodafone, Mercedes-Benz, Sappi and Pie Medical.

To the south of the city is the hill of St. Pietersberg which has an old fort and a network of caves within. The caves maintain a constant temperature of 10C and are a hibernation place for bats. Mushrooms are grown in the caves as well. It is possible to visit the caves at certain times by guided tour.

Maastricht has railway connections to Liege, Belgium, Roermond and further, and Heerlen. The railway line to Hasselt is no longer in use, although plans exist to restore it. Maastricht is served by the Maastricht Aachen Airport. By car, Maastricht can be reached within an hour from Brussels and in 2 to 3 hours from Amsterdam.

History

Missing image
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map showing location of Maastricht with respect to the Belgian border

Maastricht was built by the Romans, at a spot where the river Meuse was easy to cross. They built a large road to connect the capitals of the Nervians and Tungri, Bavay and Tongeren, with the capital of the Ubians, Cologne.

Saint Servatius was the first bishop of the Netherlands. His tomb, in the crypt at the Basilica of Saint Servatius, is a favored place of pilgrimage: Pope John Paul II visited it in 1984. The golden gilt shrine containing some of the saint's relics is carried around the town every seven years. During the medieval period these processions caused such rioting that they were forbidden.

The city remained an early Christian bishopric until it lost this position to nearby Lige in the 8th century. Maastricht developed in the Middle Ages into a city of dual authority, with both the Prince-Bishopric of Lige and the Duchy of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. It received city rights in 1204. The role of the Dukes was occupied by the Dutch States General from 1632 onwards when the city was taken from the Spanish by Frederik Hendrik. This duality remained in force until the conquest and annexation of the city by the French in 1794.

Skeletons uncovered in a front garden in Maastricht in May 2004 may be the remains of musketeers who died during a fierce 17th century battle between French attackers and Dutch defenders.

On 14 June 1673, Louis XIV's troops started to surround the city of Maastricht. Under the leadership of Captain-Lieutenant Charles de Batz-Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan, the First Company of "Mousquetaires du Roi" prepared to storm a rampart located in front of one of the city's gates. The assault on the bulwark took place not far from where the seven skeletons were found. D'Artagnan was killed by a musket shot on 25 June 1673 during a night attack on the Tongerse Gate (this event was portrayed by Alexandre Dumas in his novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne).

Maastricht surrendered to French troops on June 30. The French troops occupied the Dutch city from 1673 to 1679. It was subsequently restored to Dutch rule.

After the Napoleonic era, Maastricht became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. When the southern provinces sought independence from the North to form Belgium in 1830, the garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king and in 1839 the city and the eastern part of Limburg, despite being geographically closer to Belgium, were permanently added to the Netherlands. Because of the resulting eccentric location Maastricht was often more focused on Belgium and Germany than on the rest of the Netherlands, adding to the distinct non-Dutch character of the city.

Maastricht was the first Dutch city to be liberated by American forces in World War II.

In 1976, Maastricht became part of the Euregio Maas-Rhine.

In 1992, the Maastricht treaty was signed here, leading to the creation of the European Union.

Especially under current mayor Gerd Leers, Maastricht attracted many summits, like the OCSE-summit in 2003, and several gatherings during the Dutch EU-chairmanship in the second half of 2004.

Politics

The mayor of Maastricht is the christian democrat Gerd Leers. His party, the CDA, is also the largest party in the city council. They make up the coalition together with PvdA, VVD and GroenLinks.

External links

Template:Province NL-Limburgbg:Маастрихт ca:Maastricht da:Maastricht de:Maastricht es:Maastricht fr:Maastricht li:Mestreech nl:Maastricht nds:Maastricht ja:マーストリヒト pl:Maastricht pt:Maastricht ro:Maastricht fi:Maastricht sv:Maastricht

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