In the very heart of the historic city, in a place where history meets modernity, there’s one place that truly encapsulates it all. The Boekhandel Dominicanen (otherwise known as the Bookstore Dominicanen in English) is a dream destination for those who love both history and reading, preferably together.
A history of the Boekhandel Dominicanen
First constructed for use as a Dominican Church in the 13th-century and consecrated in 1294, the building where the bookstore can now be found is constructed in the Gothic style. Think imposing exterior, high vaulted ceilings, and wide window openings to match. Once inside, there’s even a 14th-century fresco depicting scenes of Thomas Aquinas’ life to be admired.
Following the dissolution of the Monastery in the 18th-century, the church found a range of uses over the years. At various points in time, Dominicanerkerkstraat 1 has been used as a bike store shed, a city warehouse, a parish church for the Sint-Jansparochie, and even as a printing house.
Well, that was until 2006 when the bookshop came into its current function: as a place where bibliophiles can hang out and purchase new, loved, rare, and vintage books. There’s even an entire section dedicated to DVDs, CDs, and Vinyl. Between 2006 and 2013, the shop was part of the chain Selexyz and Polare. Following the bankruptcy of the company, the store turned independent in 2014 and has been impressing customers ever since!
Visit the Boekhandel Dominicanen
Today, you can visit the beautiful bookshop for yourself. After all, the store is open on a daily basis and attracts locals and visitors alike throughout the seasons. So peruse the shelves, wander the rows of books, or even stop for a coffee and cake at the far end of the store. Located just off the iconic Vrijthof Square, the shop is also close to the iconic red tower of Sint-Janskerk.
Best seen earlier in the day, mid-week if possible so as to avoid the crowds which inevitably flock there at peak times, be sure to bring your camera along, as well as a wallet to purchase books in various languages (the store stocks works in Dutch, French, and English among others).
The store’s ‘Instagrammability’ as well as its sheer beauty means that now, some 700,000 visitors pass through the Boekhandel Dominicanen on a yearly basis! And that’s not all… There are also over one hundred and fifty events taking place annually in the store. From readings to debates to interviews, there’s a myriad of things always happening in the Boekhandel Dominicanen.
For those who love their visits served with a slice of history, it’s worth noting that elsewhere in the city, Maastricht’s only five-star rated hotel can be found in the heart of another former Dominican Church. Now known as the Kruisherenhotel Maastricht, if you’re looking for a little luxury during your travel to the Netherland’s most southerly city, then you may well want to check out this former 15th-century church.