Local Heart, Global Soul

July 24, 2015

A Restaurant Over A Labyrinth: Views, Weather And Food All Delight…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After our tour of the North caves in Maastricht several years ago,  we were looking for a bite of lunch.

Luckily we didn’t have to go far because there was a café / restaurant right next to the office for the cave tickets.

The hill overlooks the city of Maasticht and zooming in with my camera gives views d the churches and most prominent landmarks.

We all had an excellent lunch of pancakes and toasted sandwiches. The café was busy, I think not only with tourists visiting the caves but also those who have been visiting the fort nearby and local who just find this an excellent spot to relax, enjoy the view and enjoy a coffee.

The terrace fills up and empties in waves, and I try and take my photographs in the quiet moments as to exclude photographs of other people’s children on my blog as much as possible. The kids loved the tour of the caves but are not up to a long walk around the fort today; they have the swimming pool back at the holiday park more in mind. We like to combine our days as “half-half” as possible. Half sight-seeing and half back-at-home-relaxing. This plan of action also makes life easier for me too, a little walking and then a good rest. The weather has been fantastic, so we’ve been lucky… and good food and an excellent view to enjoy in this weather are the icing on the cake.

(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)

 

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

July 22, 2015

Going Down Into The Depths Of The Earth…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When visiting Maastricht and the Dutch province of Limburg several years ago, one thing what was on our “to-do” list early on was a tour of the famous St. Pietersberg caves.

What I didn’t know was that there is also a fort there called Mount Saint Peter located on a local hill called Mount St. Pieter next to the caves.

Information on Wikipedia is only in Dutch and Flemish so I’ve translated a few facts and figures here:

Fort St. Peter, located on the northern flank of Mount St. Pieter in Maastricht , dates from 1701-1702. Ordered by the military commander of Maastricht Daniel Wolff Baron Dopff  to be built in the shape of a pentagon to defend the southern ramparts of Maastricht.

This was deemed necessary in 1673 after the French occupied the Saint-Pierre and the idea was that a fortress here would put paid to any further aggression from the south.  The Tsar Peter the Great of Russia visited the fort in 1717 and it was recorded that he was received with much festivities by the governor of the town.  The fort was attacked often,  particularly spectacularly in 1794 when it was attacked by the French from the back, during one of the many sieges of Maastricht. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was substantially modernized in order to be able to meet the requirements of the time. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The fort lost it’s need of being a defensive installation after the signing of the treaty of Maastricht in 1867 bought political stability.

From the beginning of the 20th century  the area at the front of the fort had been extended and made into a bar, restaurant and party venue.

On the terrace many Pieterpad walker (a long distance  492 kilometres / 306 mile walk the length of the Netherlands from  Pieterburen in northern Groningen to the top of Mount Saint Peter in Maastricht)  drank a glass to the happy conclusion of their hike.

 In 2011, this terraced section was demolished in connection with the restoration of the fort back to it’s true, original  form.

A professional guide takes groups of tourists though the caves and ours explains that without fail they always carry three large oil lamps plus a battery operated torch. These are the main lamp for the guide at the front of the tour party, another lamp for one of the visitors to carry at the rear of the party (and no other visitor should be behind this person), a spare, backup lamp carried by another visitor in the middle of the group and the heavy duty torch that the guide carries as “backup backup”.

This is because  the caves are cold and people have gotten lost in centuries past and died of hypothermia. If you’d asked me if the caves were damp I’d have said “No” but our guide proves otherwise with a demonstration of Little Mr’s breath that revealed that there is a fine mist in the air that is simply invisible due to the lack of light. During a short guided tour you wouldn’t notice anything, but apparently over the course of hours this “mist” seeps into clothes making them very damp and after that the cold finishes you off very  quickly indeed.

The extra lamps are because although the guides have gotten to know the routes and where they are with a light, the complete, utter and total darkness messes with your senses and you loose all sense of direction in the darkness so they would be as lost as the tourist without one so no chances are taken. These caves aren’t natural, they were originally made by people cutting out blocks of marl, a lime-rich mudstone which were used to build houses, churches and castles.

(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)

They pushed carts through the tunnels and over the centuries, these deep grooves were made where the wheel hubs dug into the corners of the tunnel, literally “cutting corners…”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This tunnel was first at the highest level: once they had taken blocks out, they started lowering the floor level… see how many levels lower we are now…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

That’s why we sometimes see wheel rut wear high above our heads…

(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)

Fort St. Peter / Maastricht

Maastricht Underground / Caves

Pieterpad

 

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