South Limburg Attractions
Limburg is the most southerly of the Dutch provinces. In South Limburg (Zuid-Limburg), at Vaals, is the Drielandenpunt ("Three Countries Point") where the frontiers of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet.
South Limburg is a plateau ranging in height between 50m/165ft and 300m/1,000ft which is built up from Cretaceous limestone, Tertiary sands and massive layers of gravel, overlaid by a fertile layer of loess laid down during the Ice Age. The various tributaries of the Maas dissect the region into a number of different parts. The chalky soil has produced a landscape of great beauty, popularly known as "Little Switzerland".The economic structure of the South Limburg industrial region, around the towns of Maastricht, Sittard, Geleen, Heerlen and Kerkrade, was almost exclusively based on coal and lignite mining, but the last of its 12 pits - one of them the largest in Europe - was closed down in 1975. Annual output declined rapidly from some 10million tons in 1966 to 4.3million tons in 1970; and now coal must be imported into the region.The closing of the pits was accompanied by a planned restructuring of the coal-related industries of the region. One of the best known examples was the establishment of a branch factory of the Dutch car manufacturing firm DAF (now Volvo), which provided employment for much of the work force of the Maurits pit (opened 1924) at Geleen. At Geleen, too, the huge chemical firm DSM became one of the largest employers in South Limburg. Other branches of industry are textiles, paper-making, ceramics, leather goods and glass-making. Maastricht Airport, near Beek, is now an important center of air freight traffic.
River Maas (Meuse)
Heerlen lies east of Maastricht, close to the German frontier. In the time of Augustus the site was occupied by a Roman trading station called Coriovallum, situated at the intersection of two military roads. The European edition of the "Wall Street Journal" is published here, as well as a number of Dutch periodicals.The city is home to the Glass Palace, a landmark building designed by well-known architect Frits Peutz. There are other notable buildings including a 12th century church and former prison tower.
The Museum Thermen (Baths Museum) displays the remains of Roman baths dating from the A.D. first century.
Address: Coriovallumstraat 9, Heerlen, Limburg 6400 AA, Netherlands
St Pancratiuskerk, a Romanesque pillared basilica, shows both 12th and 14th century work. Over the choir is the square Rogues' Tower (12th C.), a relic of the old stronghold of Herle.
The Geological Museum at Voskuilenweg 131, run by the National Geological Service, has a large collection of fossils found in the mines of southern Limburg.
To the west of Heerlen is Voerendaal, around which were formerly numerous castles and country houses. Particularly notable is the 15th century Kasteel Cortenbach, which is still surrounded by its medieval moat.
More on PlanetWare