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Boekhandel Dominicanen: Maastricht’s Bookstore in a Cathedral

One day in Maastricht? Singehandedly, I can spend it all day in Dominicanen Bookshop or Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht

It is in my DNA to check out the local bookstore scene wherever I am. Most of my favorites are usually independent bookstores that have that well-kept forgottenness kind of vibe. If you get my drift. Think of Paris’ Shakespeare and Co. Or Hanoi’s Tiny Cafe franchise (although this one is more of a legit coffeehouse than a bookstore). But I’ve never heard of a bookstore inside a repurposed cathedral. I wouldn’t pretend either that I knew anything about Bookhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht, otherwise called Bookstore Dominican or Dominicanen, before I checked Google Maps for bookstores nearby. It was a pure happenstance. A happy accident that until now, more than a year after, I rave about. So consider this as a sort of travel guide or coercion or encouragement why you should visit this place.

In case, you want to stay in Maastricht, here are possible options

Some popular tours in Maastricht

Maastricht: Escape Tour – Self-Guided Citygame
Medieval Maastricht: Outdoor Escape Game
Escape Xperience Maastricht – the Key of Servatius
Maastricht: Secrets of the City In-App Exploration Game
Hoensbroek: Entry Ticket to Hoensbroek Castle
Valkenburg: Thermae 2000 Spa Entry Ticket

A Bookstore in a 700-year-old Cathedral

You don’t have to love books and literature to appreciate this contradicting metaphor that is a bookstore inside a cathedral. I grew up in a conservative Catholic society, so this juxtaposition tickled my mind. Books opened my mind to the world. While my Catholic upbringing restricted it. So to have something like this in the most literal sense is everything but ordinary.

One day in Maastricht? Singehandedly, I can spend it all day in Dominicanen Bookshop or Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht
One day in Maastricht? Singehandedly, I can spend it all day in Dominicanen Bookshop or Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht. I’m biased. Duh.

Nestled in the heart of Maastricht, the Boekhandel Dominicanen is a literary marvel that beckons all travelers, book lovers, architecture aficionados. Housed within a 700-year-old cathedral, this enchanting bookstore offers a unique fusion of history and literature.

Visitors are transported to a bygone era as they explore the aisles set amidst soaring Gothic arches and stained glass windows. Beyond its architectural wonder, the bookstore’s collection is a treasure trove for bibliophiles. With its cozy reading nooks and frequent cultural events, it’s a haven for both the curious tourist and the avid reader. Boekhandel Dominicanen invites you to experience the magic of books in a setting steeped in centuries of history, making it an unmissable gem in Maastricht’s cultural landscape.

Are there any English books sold in Boekhandel Dominicanen?

Of course. The Dutch in general are well-known for being good English speakers, whatever that means, compared to its neighbors like Germany, for example. When you enter the cathedral, most books are in Dutch, but if you tilt your head to the spectacular Goethic ceiling, to the right is a loft situation where the English selection is located.

I consider myself as someone who has somewhat fine taste in books. And I would say the selection is not too bad. From the popular titles and authords GenZs read like Sally Rooney whose works are really good, even for this arthritis-ed millennial in her late 30s. I picked Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (meh) and Meiko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs, which forever changed the way I see sex, womanhood, pregnancy, and parenthood.

There is a cafe inside Boekhandel Dominicanen

Tucked inside the amazing Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht, you’ll find a super cool café. Although it can be easily packed especially in summer. But if you can find a seat and you have some hours to kill, this is a great spot for coffee and dessert.

It is tucked at the end of the cathedral. Imagine the place where the priest and the huge sculptures used to be. Yep, that’s where the cafe is. In my head, the perfect metaphor would have been a selection of somewhat banned books in this area, while the cafe can be located where the English selection is right now. I mean, we can’t expect a perfect metaphor here, can we?

Boekhandel Dominicanen facade and the ceiling and the cafe inside
You know you are in the right place when you see this rusty-looking door. Right: the cafe at the end of the bookstore

Imagine sipping on your favorite brew or snack in a spot that used to be a 700-year-old cathedral! This place is a total chill-out zone for travelers and bookworms. The vibe is incredible, with towering Gothic arches and some fancy stained glass windows. They’ve got a menu that’s all about tasty treats, from pastries to light munchies, so you can fuel up for more exploring or just enjoy a laid-back afternoon with a book from the store. The café here is a hidden gem that adds an extra layer of awesome to your visit.

Cash or Card?

They accept both. Aside from the books I got, I also bought a Boekhandel Dominicanen tote; they are placed in front of the cashiers, to the left of the entrance.

Where is Boekhandel Dominicanen?

Address: Dominicanerkerkstraat 1, 6211 CZ Maastricht, Netherlands

Boekhandel Dominicanen is perfectly situated in the heart of Maastricht, the Netherlands. It occupies a remarkable location within the city, nestled in a 13th-century former Dominican church, known as the Dominicanenkerk. This central position makes it easily accessible to both locals and tourists, with the bustling Vrijthof Square just a stone’s throw away. Its proximity to other cultural and historic landmarks, shops, and eateries ensures that a visit to Boekhandel Dominicanen can be seamlessly woven into a day of exploring Maastricht’s rich heritage. The striking contrast of the ancient church’s exterior against the lively surroundings adds to its allure, making it a must-visit destination in this charming Dutch city.

One day in Maastricht itinerary: Vrijthof Square
Maastricht is small. This is one of the views in Vrijthof Square, and Boekhandel Dominicanen is somewhere nearby. Don’t ask me, ask Google Maps.

The History of Boekhandel Dominicanen

Boekhandel Dominicanen, often referred to as the “Dominican Bookstore,” is a renowned and enchanting literary landmark nestled in the heart of Maastricht, the Netherlands. Housed in a former Dominican church, this unique bookstore is a testament to the city’s rich history and its commitment to preserving its cultural heritage.

The history of Boekhandel Dominicanen dates back to 2006 when the Dominican church, which had been disused for decades, was transformed into a modern bookstore. The church itself has a storied past, dating to the 13th century when it was originally constructed. During the Napoleonic era, the church was repurposed for various secular uses, including as a warehouse and a bike shed, before falling into disrepair.

The rebirth of the church as a bookstore was a collaborative effort between the Selexyz bookstore chain and architects Merkx + Girod. They brilliantly merged the historic architecture with contemporary design, creating a space where the spiritual and literary worlds coexist harmoniously.

Today, Boekhandel Dominicanen stands as a literary sanctuary, boasting a vast collection of books across numerous genres, accompanied by inviting reading spaces on multiple levels. The bookstore hosts a range of cultural events, author readings, and concerts, making it a hub for literature enthusiasts and the community at large.

Boekhandel Dominicanen is not only a place for book lovers but also a symbol of Maastricht’s commitment to preserving its heritage while embracing the future. It continues to be a captivating and enduring gem in the city’s cultural landscape.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com. For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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1 Comment

  1. […] the moment I walked in. I mean you know the name of the my blog right? The Dominicanen Bookshop, or Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands, is a literary haven like no other. Housed within a repurposed […]

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