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September 2020 – Valkenburg, Netherlands
Small cities have a charm that you won’t find in their larger counterparts. Cozy, historic and surrounded by nature, Valkenburg is no exception. And still, why is this place so popular?
Castles, caves, chalk houses and hilly countryside are just a few reasons why people flock into Valkenburg aan de Geul as if going on a treasure hunt.
It makes a great weekend getaway in the Netherlands! Here’s why we found it so special.
After living in the Netherlands you will understand the thrill of seeing a mountain. Or even a hill! 🙂
Walking uphill, while the whole town gets covered in a magic autumn glow, is a wow feeling.
Surrounded by the countryside of Limburg, the city serves as a base for hiking and biking tours. Several times a year, bikers flock to Valkenburg for its cycling events.
The current Schaloen Castle (Kasteel Schaloen) dates back to the 16th century, as it was rebuilt after Spanish troops destroyed it. It is now a hotel, and the surrounding castle grounds are accessible to the public. From here you can continue exploring on a relaxing forest path.
The only hill castle in the Netherlands stands enthroned over Valkenburg. The castle, with a history dating back to the 11th century, only consists of remains today, but opens onto a fantastic panoramic view over the town of Valkenburg.
Below Valkenburg, the ‘municipal cave’ lets you into a fascinating world. Marl was mined here by the Romans 2000 years ago. Today, visitors can explore the caves on foot or by slow train.
Another cave in Valkenburg is the Fluweelengrot, which lies below the castle ruins. This corridor labyrinth was first discovered in 1937. In the past, it acted as an escape opportunity for riders and castle residents, in case the castle was invaded by enemies.
Standing at the Museum Romeinse Katakomben (Roman Catacombs Museum), you will find yourself in two places at once. Above ground, you’re in the pretty Dutch town of Valkenburg, but descend below ground and you’re in Rome, 400 AD.
Jan Diepen, son of a wealthy Dutch textile magnate, was fascinated by early Christian grave sites, the catacombs of Rome in particular. In 1908 he began constructing a reproduction of the famous catacombs in a disused quarry. The project’s accuracy and attention to detail earned the approval of Rome and the Vatican. The catacombs were opened to the public in 1910.
Valkenburg railway station is located in Valkenburg aan de Geul. The station was opened on 23 October 1853 and is located on the Maastricht–Aachen railway. The station building is the oldest in the Netherlands.
Last minute discovery in our last day, but couldn’t leave without tasting the traditional dessert in the area.
A delicious Vlai cake served after breakfast, and we’re so good to go!
Anita&Geo, World travellers