Sunday, November 25, 2012

Maastricht 2018

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In 1985 Europe started a very special way of promoting cultural values across the continent. Former Greece's Minister of Culture came up with the idea of choosing every year an European city to be a cultural capital for twelve months during which the designated city will host as many art and cultural events as possible in order to promote the idiosincracy of the country and export its cultural values to the rest of Europe. The iniciative was a real success and since 1985 most European countries have taken part in the programme. In the beginning just one city was designated as European Capital of Culture per year, but nowadays the European Commission proposes two host countries per year and every city of those countries can start a bidding process to be later designated as a European Capital of Culture. The bid usually lists all qualities which make that particular city the perfect candidate as well as proposing a year-long calendarof cultural and artistic events potentially interesting for people from all over Europe.  

In 2018 The Netherlands will host one of the European Capitals of Culture and as you might have guessed by now, Maastricht is a candidate city. I really believe that Maastricht would make an incredible capital of Culture, so I decided to write a brief post to share with you all the reasons that make Maastricht a winner.

  • Maastricht is filled with history and it can proudly claim that it is the oldest city in The Netherlands, even though some people from Nijmegen might disagree. But since the Romans went upwards to conquer Europe their roads reached Maastricht, then known as Mosae Trajectum, and established a settlement here that would survive wars and sieges. The latest achievement of the city was being the place where the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992.
  • Maastricht is an architectural gem and there's no place in The Netherlands like Maastricht! There are no cannals in Maastricht and consequently the city is lacking the lovely houses that line every cannal in every other Dutch city. But there's nothing wrong with it, as it actually means that Maastricht will offer something that no other Dutch city will, a beautiful city center with some buildings from the 11th or 12th century and city walls from the Middle Ages. Besides, there's also a newly renovated neighbourhood, Ceramique, with buildings from renowned international architects which could maybe even rival Rotterdam ... well, just maybe.
  • Maastricht celebrates culture in every possible way! With a couple of relevant museums exhibiting the rich historical patrimony of the city, a theater offering a varied programme throughout the year, an art-house cinema, many festivals and open-air concerts,specially during the summer. There's almost always something to do in the city. And sometimes even for free!
  • It's not only about Maastricht. The bid was done as the Euroregion, including Liege in Belgium and Aachen in Germany, as well as Hasselt in Belgium and Heerlen and Sittard-Geleen also in The Netherlands. So, not only one culture will be on the spotlight but three different cultures. Could there be a better way to celebrate cultural diversity in Europe?!
  • Just because! Just because Maastricht is beautiful, just because it is relaxed, just because the sun shines more than any other place in The Netherlands, just because it is surrounded by green hills, just because it is so easy to reach from Germany and Belgium, just because I am happy living here and I am sure that when the time comes to part I'll be very sad to leave this charming town behind and I can't think of a better reason to come back than to enjoy Maastricht as the European Capital of Culture in 2018.

It won't be an easy road as competition is tough. Eindhoven, The Hague, Utrecht and Leeuwarden are the other candidate cities from The Netherlands and all of them are beautiful and unique in their own way. But still, Maastricht has great arguments to be the chosen one. So, GO MAASTRICHT!

UPDATE January 2013: I'm very pleased to announced that Maastricht has made it to the second phase. Now the only contenders left, apart from Maastricht, are Eindhoven and Leeuwarden. Eindhoven is mostly known as the industrial home of Phillips and PSV, as well as a cheap entry gate to The Netherlands (thanks to Irish airline you all know) but even to Dutch people, Eindhoven is not much of a charming nor cultural city. Leeuwarden, which prides itself on being the homeplace of Mata Hari, is an enigmatic place up in Friesland, mainly a countryside province with its own language and a somewhat rich cultural heritage. It is a small beautiful city and I think that it is Maastricht's most fierce competitor. Anyways, only time (and the jury) will tell. But until then, you can go again through all the reasons why I think that Maastricht deserves winning and find many other inspirational posts about Maastricht in this blog.

UPDATE September 2013: Sadly it couldn't be. Leeuwarden has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2018. Well, it is another beautiful Dutch city with an interesting history and it is also worth a visit, though it lies far from the usual touristic routes.


  1. No conozco Maastrich así que es difícil opinar, aunque después de leer tus razones parece una buena opción incluirla en mi lista de destinos que cada día es mas y mas larga. Lo de los conciertos en la calle me encanta lo he visto en algunas ciudades Europeas pero aquí en España no toman ejemplo
    Mucha suerte a Maastrich!!

    1. un beso y buena semana a ti, casi se me olvida

    2. Muchas gracias Laia!
      Pues si alguna vez pasas por Holanda, yo creo que Maastricht es muy recomendable :)
      Buena semana a tí tb!


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