Valkenburg: The Christmas city of The Netherlands

Valkenburg: The Christmas city of The Netherlands

Valkenburg aan de Geul, shortly known as Valkenburg, is a city located in the province of Limburg in the South of the Netherlands. Valkenburg is quite accessible to three places in three countries, such as in Maastricht Netherlands, Aachen Germany, and Leuven Belgium. This city may not be as popular as Amsterdam, but it is still considered as a hotspot tourist destination both by locals and foreigners. In fact, it is accommodating a million of overnight stays every year. But why it has been very popular among tourists? Well, it is a mixed of everything – ranging from religion, topography, culture and history – making it a very special place. My husband and I have heard of Valkenburg for a few times even before we got into this city. And since we visited this place, we can say that Valkenburg indeed gives a unique taste of the Netherlands. Below I will outline some interesting information about this city.

Entrance to the cave of Valkenburg.

Why you should visit Valkenburg?

1. Valkenburg is famous for its Roman catacombs.

The replica of Roman catacombs, or underground burial places, has been built in Valkenburg during the 1900s. It was Jan Diepen (1872-1930), whose family owned a country residence in Villa Alpha in Valkenburg, and famous architect Pierre Cuypers (1827-1921), who initiated the building of catacombs in Valkenburg.  If you want to have an impression of how a real Catacombs look like without traveling to Rome, then this is the best place to go. In fact, it gives more advantage to visit the catacombs of Valkenburg than visiting the catacombs in Rome. First, it takes weeks to complete the tour of catacombs in Rome as compared to a one day visit in Valkenburg. The catacombs in Rome are scattered  in the neighborhood of the Roman city, thus the tour takes a long time. Unlike in Valkenburg, the catacombs are located in the city itself. Second, the catacombs in Valkenburg are more preserved as compared to the ones in Rome. Fourteen impressive catacombs are found in Valkenburg, including the famous Priscilla on the Via Salaria (north of Rome’s historic centre) and Saint Callixtus on the Via Appia (southeast of the centre). The catacomb of Priscilla is famous due to the fresco of a mother and child, which portrays the oldest image of Mary and child Jesus. The catacomb of Saint Callixtus is famous since the Crypt of the Pope can be found here.

Some of the scriptures to be found inside the catacomb.
Roman inspired sculpture near the entrance of the cave.
A depiction of the 12 apostles or the Roman politics?

2. Vakenburg has a hilly topography, a unique characteristics for a flat country!

Unlike many places of the Netherlands, Valkenburg has a hilly topography. This topographical feature makes this place a famous cycling events. For instance, the city has hosted in five years time (1938, 1948, 1979, 1998, and 2012) the UCI Road Cycling World Championship. The Cauberg of the city is also set as the finish line for the Amstel Gold race, while Valkenburg itself became the finish line for Tour de France race in 1992 and 2006.

Hilly view of old Valkenburg.
A view of the hills from the hotel we stayed.

3. Experience a Valkenburg’s Christmas.

Spending a Christmas in Valkenburg is one of a kind experience in the Netherlands. Valkenburg old town is visited by the locals and tourists due to its Christmas markets. In many Christmas stores, you can enjoy the relax ambiance of the season and you may treat yourself with shopping and food indulgence. Once in Valkenburg, it is also a must-see to visit the 25-metres long Christmas story in miniature in MergelRijk and the nativity story in Wilhelmina Cave. To buy your tickets, you may order them via this site.

A Christmas table inside the cave.
Miniatures inside the cave to tell the story of Christmas.

4. Valkenburg’s Castle ruin.

The Valkenburg’s castle ruin is an important historical remains of the middle ages in this city. It tells the story of many sieges and defenses, and the destructions and dominions of various knights close to this area. This castle is the only castle in the Netherlands that is located in a hilltop and oversees the little fortress town of Valkenburg.  At the entrance of the castle is a restaurant where you can find a beautiful view of the city.

A view of the castle ruin in Valkenburg.

5. It has the oldest train stations.

Yes, Valkenburg has the oldest surviving train station in the Netherlands. It was opened in October 23, 1853 to open connection to other places of Maastricht Netherlands such as Heerlen and Aachen.

6. It is a beautiful place for children.

Valkenburg is not only famous to couples or group of friends, but also to family. There are many wonderful things to do with children when in this city. First, there is the amusement park de Valkenier, which is good for visitors of all ages. You can find in this attraction a zoo, indoor play area, a ferris wheel and roller coaster, a water slide, a haunted castle, and playground for children with disabilities. Next there is also the Steenkolenmijn (charcoal) museum. Visiting this museum can make you feel like traveling back in time since you will discover interesting dinosaurs that were excavated, such as the largest Mosasaurus, Cretaceous, and Carbinoferous fossils.  Finally, you can also find the Sprookjesbos (Fairytale Forest) theme park, which offers a fantasy rich and authentic play experience for children.

A relaxing treats with kids, days before Christmas.

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