Monday, September 10, 2012

The insides of Maastricht: Sint-Pieter Fort

Yesterday I decided to take a break from studying in the afternoon and I went for a nice walk in the surroundings of Maastricht. It was the Open Monumentendag (officially Open Heritage Days in English) so many monuments were open and free, so I didn't hesitate and jumped at the chance of visiting the Fort Sint-Pieter (again!) I had already been there last year and I thought it was a really nice place to spend half a day and get some gorgeous sights of Maastricht. And unlike last year, yesterday the sun was shining brightly and there wasn't any cloud in the sky, so the views from the top were simply perfect!


Fort Sint-Pieter is a fortification at the top of Sint-Pietersberg (Saint Peter's Hill) that lies at the south of the city, just 15 minutes away from the centre on foot. The Sint-Pietersberg has been declared natural monument and is a great site to go to for a walk, as there are many paths to hike or to bike and the natural surroundings are really beautiful.

Maastricht is right at the border with Germany and Belgium and all over history it has been a very strategic point for most western rising and falling empires. The Romans arrived to Maastricht around 2000 years ago and built a bridge over the Meuse river. Ever since Maastricht became a very attractive objective for troops of all sign and  the Romans started digging the first tunnels which sheltered the population of the city every time that Maastricht was attacked. Over the centuries these primary tunnels evolved into a very sophisticated defensive system, including around 20000 tunnels that even reached Belgium, the walls surrounding the city (the remainings of the wall and the entry gates can still be found today spread over the city) and several fortifications. Nowadays, after many sieges, the tunnels are no longer necessary but part of them are open to the public and can be visited with a guided tour. Fort Sint-Pieter is also open to the public and is a good starting point to explore the underground history of Maastricht. So, welcome to my own photographic tour to the insides of Maastricht.


Once in, the way is down! The fort is an intrincate labyrinth of dark and cold tunnels and stiff stairs.




The brick walls have seen centuries pass by and endured many a siege. Outer tunnels have windows to spot past attacking troops and cannons were always ready to fire.




After wandering in the darkness for a while some steps finally go up and out to the top of the fortress, which probably once was the highest point of the city making an outstanding point to watch over the rebellious surroundings.


Once out, it still possible to climb up a little more to get an awesome view of Maastricht and its countryside surroundings.

While walking along those dark tunnels alone I wondered what it must have been like to be hiding there for days or months and the dangers that might have encountered the people staying there during a siege, as they were probably not only facing the enemy but also shortages on water and food and being inside those tunnels pute them just as in much peril as being outside. After all, 200 km of dark tunnels cannot always be controlled and whatever happened in a lonesome corner could possibly never be found. It kind of remind me of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, one of my favourite childhood books. And for some reason this brief excursion to Sint-Pieter Fort also remind me of my visit to Edinburgh's Castle and that put a big smile on my face because I absolutly loved that short trip to Edinburgh! I also realised that I should really try and do more things even if it's on my own and even if I have very limited spare time now. But still, even if I'm busy and not moving around that much for a while, I shouldn't be so lazy and try to discover all the specials places nearby. Maybe I should go back some time this year for some hike!

2 comments:

  1. Whoa such cool photos! Looks like a really fun day exploring!



    xoxo Bree



    The Urban Umbrella



    http://www.theurbanumbrella.com



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really did have fun exploring and taking pictures :)
      Thanks for your comment x

      Delete

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