Between 1575 and 1825, a network of underground passageways or mine galleries was created on the western side of Maastricht. During times of siege, these tunnels were used to approach and surprise the enemy from under the ground. You can try to find your way through the long brick tunnels of these defensive works with the aid of a map and a torch, encountering crossroads that all look alike.
Take a seat on a narrow wooden bench, just like the people of Maastricht did during the Second World War, while bombers flew overhead. Whisper in your friend’s ear while standing with your back to him. It's all possible in the Casemates in Maastricht Underground! You will also visit the exhibition on two periods in which they served as a shelter: the Second World War and the Cold War. Photographs, original posters, and installations create an ambience that takes you back to those often fearful and oppressive times, but which at times also bring a smile to your face and make you think.
A good defence is the best form of attack
Like moles underground, people dug this 14-kilometre long system of defensive tunnels under the western side of the city in the 18th century. The soldiers in these tunnels 'listened' to find out whether the enemy was trying to undermine the defensive works, and then began a counter-attack from underground.
During the Second World War, the people of Maastricht spend many fearful hours crowded together here, sheltering from bombardments. By the end of the war, there was space for more than 25,000 people in the tunnels. Following liberation, the air-raid shelters were closed and most of the entrances were bricked up. In the 1960s, during the Cold War, a number of air-raid shelters were created again in the Casemates. These new shelters had to be able to offer protection against fall-out or radioactivity for a certain amount of time. After the fall of the Berlin wall, these air-raid shelters were once again cleared and dismantled without ever having to be used.
For more background information about Maastricht's defences and fortifications, see www.zichtopmaastricht.nl.
Standard tours are also offered in English for our international visitors in the North Caves and Fort St Pieter (every day all year round) and in the Zonneberg Caves starting 2016 (weekends only).
We also offer a variety of tailored activities and programmes in all our locations, for both adults and children. Take a look under Activities and Kids for a complete overview.