MAASTRICHT made world headlines in 1992, when the signing of the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union. With its cobbled streets and fashionable boutiques in the old town, contemporary architecture in the Céramique district, a fantastic art fair and excellent cuisine, Maastricht is one of the most vibrant cities in the Netherlands. Add in its continental feel, the multilingual population and close proximity to Belgium and Germany and it's no wonder why the Eurocrats signed the treaty here: Maastricht epitomizes the most positive aspects of European union.
Vying with Nijmegen as the oldest town in the country, Maastricht has become something of a call-centre capital, hosting the likes of Mercedes Benz and DHL. Redevelopment continues apace today with the "City Centre in Motion" scheme, whose most recent contribution is 't Bassin, a spruced up inland harbour north of the Markt, with restaurants, cafés, shops and galleries. Other parts of the town make for delightful walking territory, especially the older quarters such as Stokstraat.