In the heart of the historic city, somewhere where history meets modernity, there’s one place that really encapsulates everything. The Boekhandel Dominicanen (otherwise known as the Bookstore Dominicanen in English) is a dream destination for people 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 in which the bookstore can now be found is constructed within 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 become admired.
Following the dissolution from the Monastery within the 18th-century, the church found a variety of uses over the years. At various points in time, Dominicanerkerkstraat 1 has been utilized like a bike store shed, a city warehouse, a parish church for that Sint-Jansparochie, as well as as a printing house.
Well, that was until 2006 when the bookshop arrived to its current function: like a place where bibliophiles can spend time and purchase new, loved, rare, and vintage books. There’s even an entire section focused on DVDs, CDs, and Vinyl. Between 2006 and 2020, the shop was part of the chain Selexyz and Polare. Following the bankruptcy of the company, the shop turned independent in 2020 and it has been impressing customers ever since!
Visit the Boekhandel Dominicanen
Today, you can visit the beautiful bookshop on your own. After all, the shop 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 in the far end of the store. Located just off the long-lasting Vrijthof Square, the shop is also near to the iconic red tower of Sint-Janskerk.
Best seen earlier in the day, mid-week if at all possible so as to steer clear of the crowds which inevitably flock there at peak times, be sure to bring the digital camera along, as well as a wallet to buy books in various languages (the shop 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's also more than one hundred and fifty events happening annually within the store. From readings to debates to interviews, there’s an array of things always happening within the Boekhandel Dominicanen.
For people who love their visits served having a slice of history, it’s important to note that elsewhere within the city, Maastricht’s only five-star rated hotel are available in the heart of another former Dominican Church. Now referred to as Kruisherenhotel Maastricht, if you’re looking for a little luxury during your visit the Netherland’s most southerly city, then you may well wish to check out this former 15th-century church.