Speaking of statues….
There are many wonderful outdoor sculptures dotted around old Maastricht. Some of them are linked to the Carneval festivities, and I’ll cover those later.
But, here are 3 other fun ones.
Stokstraat is a pleasant pedestrian precinct, between the River Maas and Vrijthof Square in the City Center. Here the lovely 17th and 18th century restored houses, decorated with pediments, façade stones, and signs are now art, antique and print shops. On Stokstraat, just behind the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Church, is a bronze statue of a young man with his dog. It seems he’s holding out a pack of cigarettes, but I couldn’t find any information on him, so I’m not sure what the story or significance is. Any ideas?
To find the next two statues, head to the Jeker Quarter. The Jeker Quarter, between the city center and the old city walls has a long history of crafts and trades practiced in this area and is now also the center of university student life.
Grote Looiersstraat is named after the leather tanners (in Dutch “looiers”) who worked along here when a branch of the Jeker River ran down the middle of the street, giving them the water they needed to process the leather. In 1897, this branch of the river disappeared underground beneath the road. At the end is a charming shaded square surrounded by old houses. Here a sculpted group depicts children listening to the popular Maastricht storyteller, Fons Olterdissen (1865-1923). His real name was Alphonse, often shortened to Alfons, then Fons.
One of the streets that runs off this is Looiersgracht, from which you can see the Bonnefanten Nunnery, named after the order of nuns called Bons Enfants (“good children”). It crosses the Jeker River and you can clearly see the Huis op den Jeker, an early 17th building straddling the stream. At that point is a statue of a donkey, at the place where the Ezelmarkt (Donkey Market) used to be. We’re told it’s to remember those donkeys that were so helpful to the tradesmen here in the past. Very cute.