Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands, is quintessentially European, and extremely international. You can hear it, see it, taste it. The city gained international fame as the ‘birthplace of the European Union’ by hosting of the European Summit in 1991, and as the city where the Treaty of Maastricht was signed in 1992. Remnants of the city’s old defensive walls can be found dotted around the inner city, and the cobblestone streets are a testament to its ancient culture and history.
While strolling through the medieval centre, observant people will spot numerous references to the city’s coat of arms, which is a red shield with a five-pointed white star, held by an angelic figure. Both star and angel hold a special place in the inhabitants’ heart, and are not to be trifled with.
Located in the southernmost tip of the country, it has a reputation for feeling rather non-Dutch. To many Dutch people it actually even feels as if they are abroad and no longer in the Netherlands. These “Dutchies” join the flocks of countless other visitors from all over the world, who come to check out one of its 1,660 monumental buildings, go shopping, sample the many different cuisines on offer, or do business with its many international corporations and institutions. Add to that the voices of thousands of international students, and it becomes very hard to resist the pull of this amazing place.