Local Heart, Global Soul

July 23, 2015

The Writing, Painting And Drawing Is On The Wall…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterday’s post Family Kiwidutch are visiting the famous caves just outside Maastricht. From their website I learn that:

“The labyrinth once had 20,000 passageways covering a total of 200 kilometres.

The labyrinth currently has 8,000 passageways, measuring a total of 80 kilometres in length.  

The fossilised remains of  creatures can still be seen today in the yellow marl used in buildings in the city and on the walls of the passageways.

The most impressive finds date from 1770, 1998, and 2012, when particularly well-preserved fossils of mosasaurs (literally: Meuse lizards) – relations of the dinosaurs – were found in the St. Pietersberg hill.

Due to their air of mystery and their vastness, the catacombs also gained great strategic importance during the dozens of sieges on the fortified city of Maastricht. Battles were even fought right into the caves by the nearby Fort St. Pieter.
An enormous explosion took place below the fort in 1794, creating a huge underground dome, which can now be visited safely. The passageways also served as a place of refuge for the inhabitants of Maastricht and the surrounding area during wartime.

Wells were dug in the Zonneberg caves, an entire hospital ward was set up, and a bakery and a chapel were built. The remains of these can still be seen. In September 1944, Maastricht’s residents sheltered in the bombproof safety of the caves, while above ground the city was being liberated.” 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our guide  who took us through the North Caves told us that although some of the other caves were outfitted with equipment to house civilians during World War II,  they were never put into use for an extended period of time.

Since, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, they now know more about hypothermia and how an attempt at housing people inside the tunnels would have been impossible in reality. Fortunately it was never needed as a long term shelter, rather for just hours at a time. Over the centuries people have decorated the walls of the tunnels in many forms: relief sculptures, charcoal drawing/painting and inscribing their names and details.

One such person was a Mr Salomon who left an inscription in 1941, and there was a story to go with this that I don’t fully remember correctly, I *think* he was the only survivor of the concentration camps, or his son was … but for whatever the exact reason was, his son came back in 1991 and inscribed his name too. Since inscriptions like these are not permitted these days  in order to preserve the tunnels I am not sure if he did it with  permission or not.

The guide told us that the tunnels were used a lot during World War II,  especially due to the fact that some of the tunnels have entrances and exits in Belgium as well as the Netherlands (the Belgium border being only a short distance away) so resistance fighters, Jews and Allied soldiers moved people and goods through the tunnels covertly. These cross border tunnels are no longer accessible, but were an invaluable aid in World War II and in previous conflicts and sieges.

Getting photographs of the drawings on the wall is rather a hit and miss affair, the flash produces a very stark, unnatural image so I try to just use the light from the lamps in the tunnel.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The caption says: “Think about your guide”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Caves / Maastricht

4 Comments »

  1. you did well

    Comment by Maureen — July 23, 2015 @ 8:54 am | Reply

  2. The guide let some of the party experience what it would have been like to be lost in the tunnels, in a stretch with no side tunnels so that there was no chance of mishap. I wasn’t going to try walking in the dark on crutches so went on ahead and around a corner or two with the kids and lamps. The ones left behind had to walk about 30 meters in the pitch dark, holding hands in a chain and knowing the way only by feeling the walls. They said that within a few steps of the light being gone that the darkness was so intense they were very disorientated. All of them were very relieved to get around the two corners to the lights again and said that even being in that darkness in a group and holding hands was scary so how much worse it would be if you were alone.

    Comment by kiwidutch — July 24, 2015 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  3. Fantastic art in an amazing place!

    Comment by Carrie — July 29, 2015 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

    • Carrie, Little did I know that this was just the tip of the iceburg! 🙂

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 30, 2015 @ 9:25 pm | Reply


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