Maastricht borders on two provinces and languages in Belgium: Limburg in Flanders where Dutch is the official language and Liège in Wallonia where the official language is French. This creates much diversity in the neighbourhood of Maastricht.
There is a lot to see and experience in Hasselt, the capital of the Belgian province Limburg which is located 26 kilometers from Maastricht. Hasselt has a rich history and originates from small settlements that date back to prehistoric times. Around 72,000 people live in Hasselt which in recent years has turned more green after several city regeneration projects. The Green Boulevard (inner ring road), the Kolonel Dusart square with parking underground and several districts have been renewed.
Hasselt is entirely focused on the future. The Grenslandhallen with the Ethias Arena have been expanded and the first indoor theme park in Belgium, Plopsa Indoor Hasselt, has been opened. Hasselt University will also expand and construction has started on the second campus in the city (the first one lies in the nearby town of Diepenbeek).
Several attractions in Hasselt include the St. Quentin’s Cathedral, the largest Japanese garden in Europe, the National Jenever Museum, the Urban Fashion Museum and the large Market Square.
Hasselt is well connected by the Liège-Hasselt-Antwerp motorway, the great ring road, bus services en the railway station. Plans have been made to connect Maastricht to Hasselt via a light rail connection. This light rail service should be in operation in 2012 as part of the Spartacus plan, a project aimed at renovating the public transport in Belgian Limburg.
Another great city is Liège with a population of over 190,000. The city was known for its mining and steel industry. In the beginning of the 20th century, three world exhibitions were organized in Liège.
Liège has not been forgotten when the great industrial companies left. The city has several large renovation projects. A recently renovated section of the city is the main railway station Liège-Guillemins. This second busiest station in Wallonia received a new glass dome which makes the station one of the most beautiful in the region.
Liège is also known for its Sunday market on La Batte on the banks of the River Meuse. It is almost 2 kilometers in length and offers a great diversity of goods. Liège is well connected by train which it owes to the former industries. There is a train each hour running from Maastricht to Liège and Brussels. Liège is also connected by bus services, an inland harbour (the first in Belgium) and the small Liège Airport.
Other attractions include the column in front of the city hall, the colorful Saint Bartholomew’s Church, the Montagne de Bueren's 374 steps stairway and the huge Prince-Bishops of Liège Palace. All this is located 25 kilometers from Maastricht.
In the small German speaking part of Belgium lies Eupen. It has a population of 18,000 and is the capital city of the German speaking community in Belgium. Eupen has a higher and lower part. From Eupen railway station there is an Intercity connection with Ostend on the Belgium coast.
The River Vesdre flows through Eupen. Eupen has five churches which have all been constructed using different architectures. Eupen is lovely for nature lovers since a large part of the Hertogenwald forest lies around Eupen.
Eupen reached a peak in 2010 when local soccer team KAS Eupen was promoted to the highest division in Belgian football. The stadium was expanded and KAS Eupen now competes for the national title.