Although Maastricht is the capital of the Dutch province of Limburg, the city has been called the most Belgium city of the Netherlands. The city has a decided air of 'savoir vivre', and is a popular weekend destination. The city was founded by the Romans on a fordable place in the river Meuse. Maastricht has a beautiful historical center, with at its center the Vrijthof. Weather permitting, that square is filled with people.
Maastricht has 120.000 inhabitants. Their average age is quite high, for one thing because elderly people like to relocate to the city. On the other hand, there are also many students, due to the presence of a university and polytechnic.
The city is located in the extreme south-east of the Netherlands, in the south of the province of Limburg. It is located on both banks of the river Meuse, between the plateau of Margraten and the Haspengouw.
The city's economy depends less and less on industry (cement, porcelain and ceramics) and more and more on knowledge, services, conferences and exhibition, and higher education.
Tourism also plays an important role. In 2005, 400,000 people stayed in Maastricht one or several nights. And then there are the day trippers, who visit Maastricht from elsewhere in Netherlands or Belgium, or during their vacation in Limburg.
Eight kilometers to the north of the city, along the A2 motorway, lies Maastricht Aachen Airport. There are regular flights to Amsterdam, Berlin and Bucharest. In addition, there are flights of low cost carriers to popular holiday destinations.
Citybus Maastricht provides public transport in the city. Hermes and Limex operate regular services to places in the region. From Maastricht you can also take the bus to Belgium, with the Belgian company De Lijn.
The Central Station is located within walking distance of the center. There are good connections with the rest of the Netherlands and cities in Belgium. The train station Randwyck is located near the MECC conference center.
The A2 motorway runs right through the eastern suburbs of Maastricht. In the city itself it is no longer a motorway, but a very busy city route, with regular traffic jams. Early 2008, work will begin on moving this road underground.
In the city center you can only use paid parking from 8 am to 18 pm, on shopping evenings and during shopping Sundays (every first Sunday of the month). On other Sundays, parking is free. Along all the entry routes there are signs that point the way to major car parks and areas. The signs also indicate how many spaces are available. On very busy days (Fridays, Saturdays and shopping Sundays) drivers can use the P+R area near the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition & Conference Center). From the P+R area you can take a high-speed bus to the market. Signs along the A2 show you how to get to the P+R area.
The Maastricht Tourist Office (VVV) provides free folders about parking in the city.
Maastricht has plenty of hotels in every price range. There are also hotels in the vicinity of the city, often at beautiful locations. Maastricht has one 5 star hotel. The city attracts tourist all year through, especially during weekends. The MECC regularly organizes major events, which also attract many visitors. So it's advisable to book your hotel room in advance.
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