ROERMOND, the focal point of central Limburg, is something of an oddity. While not especially exciting, it does have a rich Catholic heritage, as numerous shrines to the Virgin suggest – a legacy of 250 years of Habsburg rule that ended only in 1839 with the unification of the Netherlands. Today, the town's greatest asset is its position: Roermond lies on the banks of the River Maas, at the point where it meanders into the small, artificial lakes of the Maasplassen. Come summertime, these lakes fill with small boats, windsurfs and water-skis as holidaymakers take to the water or fish under the town's skyline.
Walk into town from the train station and you'll come to the Munsterkerk (April– Oct daily 2–5pm, Sat closes 4pm; Nov– March Sat 2–4pm; free), on Munsterplein, built in Romanesque style in the thirteenth century, but much altered and gothicized by Cuypers in the nineteenth century. Inside, the chief thing to see is the polychrome thirteenth-century tomb of Gerhard III and his wife Margaret of Brabant. From here it's a short walk to the large sloping square of the Markt, on the eastern side of which is the dull early eighteenth-century Stadhuis. More noticeable, St Christopher's Cathedral (April– Oct daily 2–5pm; free) was rebuilt following damage in World War II.
Roermond's principal architectural claim to fame is celebrated at the Stedelijk Museum, Andersonweg 2–8 (Tues– Fri 11am–5pm, Sat & Sun 2–5pm; 2). P.J.H. Cuypers (1827–1921) was the Netherlands' foremost ecclesiastical architect in the nineteenth century, though he also designed the Rijksmuseum and Centraal Station in Amsterdam. Roermond's museum is the building in which Cuypers lived and worked for much of his life and preserves a small private chapel as well as a large extension in which masses of decorative panels, mouldings and fixtures were produced. Other exhibits show his plans and paintings, along with a collection of works by other local artists, chiefly Hendrik Luyten.